Working toward closing The Dream Gap in South Africa

by ashley

From a young age, many girls begin to develop limiting self-beliefs. New research indicates the challenges that young girls face don’t lie in their lacking self-confidence or drive; rather, the gaps often occur in the world around them.

Barbie, in collaboration with the TechnoGirl Trust, will work toward closing the gap between South African girls and their dreams, especially those aspiring to become the next generation of engineers, technologists and scientists.

Focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers, and industries that have predominantly been male-dominated, this partnership will empower girls by entering them into job-shadowing opportunities. The objective of this initiative is to provide access for girls to experience the world of work in a professional environment and therefore to develop insight, aspiration as well as life skills to better equip their career decision-making.

Barbie, as the original girl and women empowerment brand, has kicked off this year’s Dream Gap Project in South Africa, offering participants the resources and support they need to continue to believe they can be anything. The local partnership with the TechnoGirl Trust aligns to its mission of investing in youth development through ongoing and holistic support. By collaborating with partners to empower women and girls, to better equip them for entry into STEM career fields, Barbie and the TechnoGirl Trust are entering into a long-term partnership that will unfold over the next few years to change the lives of girl children in South Africa for the better. 

“Progress has been made toward gender equality; however, stereotypes and societal biases still exist that can affect a girl’s trajectory and future choices. The Barbie Dream Gap Project, which was started in 2019, is a global mission dedicated to closing the gap by challenging gender stereotypes and helping undo the biases that hold girls back from reaching their full potential,” says Terusha Naidoo, Barbie marketing manager for South Africa. 

According to the WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2022, fewer than 13% of women choose STEM careers. “Our job-shadowing programme has been designed on the understanding that exposure to the public and private sector workplaces can significantly contribute toward motivating girls to take up STEM careers that are in demand and where women are under-represented,” says Staff Sithole, CEO at the TechnoGirl Trust.

“Since 2005, TechnoGirl, through our job-shadowing programme, has enabled girls to experience STEM careers and ultimately make informed career choices. In collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Department of Basic Education, to date TechnoGirl has seen more than 26 000 girls go through the structured programme – and, on average, 75% of the beneficiaries advance to register for STEM careers,” she adds. 

As efforts by the TechnoGirl Trust have begun to identify girls for the Dream Gap Project in South Africa, the first intake will happen in March 2024, when the first cohort of Grade 9 girls will start their journey in the TechnoGirl job-shadowing programme. The TechnoGirl Trust will work closely with the Department of Basic Education districts and schools, host companies and Barbie, while implementing the established and structured programme set out by them. Girls will experience the impactful, life-changing benefits of the programme, across the four years they are part of it. 

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