March 03, 2022, Mumbai: Why are young girls presented with kitchen sets on their birthdays while boys are given toy robots or construction sets? Are our unconscious gender biases holding girls back? According to United Nations, in India women make up only 14% of the workforce in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). As a brand of science, but simultaneously proudly also a brand of women, leading skincare brand Olay believes the world needs more women in STEM and believes it’s time to change the STEM gender gap equation in India.
Rooted in cultural barriers and stereotypical gender roles, women are often stereotyped as caregivers or homemakers and restricted in their fields of study to teaching, nursing, fine arts and home economics amongst the like. That’s why Olay has launched its #STEMTheGap initiative, as part of which the brand is encouraging more Indian girls to fearlessly pursue STEM education and careers. To action this, Olay has launched a STEM scholarship program for girls in partnership with LEAD, India’s foremost School EdTech player.
LEAD works with over 3000 schools, most of which serve low-income families, to deliver international standard education to 1.2 million+ students. Specifically, LEAD transforms schools by helping teachers design the curriculum and find ways to better convey the concepts to students, whilst also securing books and other quality resources. It’s exactly this commitment to high quality education in geographical areas that may not otherwise have access that makes LEAD the ideal partner for Olay’s STEM scholarship programme. The girls who are recipients will be enabled with a very good experience and education, allowing them to pursue their passions and interests.
Since 2021, Olay is sponsoring tuition fees, as well as tablets and data packs for girls across 6 states in India. The latter two are particularly critical with the backdrop of the pandemic – many families don’t have multiple smartphones or devices at home, so providing tech-enabled solutions to ensure the girls can continue learning, even in an online or hybrid environment of physical and digital classrooms, is hugely meaningful.
Speaking on the #STEMTheGap initiative, Priyali Kamath, Senior Vice President, Skin & Personal Care – Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, Procter & Gamble (P&G) said, “Olay is a brand deeply rooted in science, and with 50% of our scientists being women, we know that girls have the potential to become amazing scientists. With more and more jobs becoming STEM-based, we believe it’s our collective responsibility to prepare girls for the jobs of the future. That is why we are committed to helping close the gender gap in STEM. Our scholarship program with LEAD is already making a real and meaningful difference today, and we are excited to be part of driving a positive future for girls in India. Together, let’s #STEMTheGap.”
Sumeet Mehta, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, LEAD said “Olay’s scholarships are extremely meaningful and will enable the girls to pursue their passions and interests. Our mission at LEAD is to take excellent education to every child by transforming schools, especially in small towns. Our partnership with Olay will further allow us to create value for students and democratize learning irrespective of where one goes to school. The early years are foundational for girls, and we are proud to be partnering on this cause to make a positive difference and work towards closing the gender gap in STEM.”
Ranjit Bute, parent of scholarship recipient Riya Bute (9) from Mangaon, District Raigad Maharashtra, said “I am a bus driver and my daughter Riya is currently in the 3rd standard. We were struggling to pay our daughter’s school fees during the pandemic and were worried she will fall behind in her education. When LEAD introduced us to this initiative by Olay, to help support our daughter’s entire education, we were so happy and relieved! We will always be grateful to Olay and LEAD for providing this huge support for us in our child’s education during these stressful times”
With the launch of its meaningful initiative #STEMTheGap, Olay India is committing to help close the gender gap in STEM. The brand has also unveiled a hard-hitting film highlighting how our unconscious biases teach girls that STEM is not for them and invites us to collectively address this to #STEMTheGap.