“STEM is a path to well-being, should I find a better way to push social wellness I’d go for it, until then I’ll stick to promoting STEM competencies in the national agenda of our country”, this sound statement comes from one of Mexico’s top names in the list of women executives and entrepreneurs in our country. A woman who has become a role-model of her own to prove work and life balance is standing and that education and gender paradigms are still to be reconfigured for the better.
STEM Movement is a Mexican non-governmental organization founded in May 2017 by Graciela Rojas, also founder of Profesor Chiflado an edutainment company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering and maths areas of knowledge through memorable experiential activities for children.
In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL in English, founder and president of STEM Movement explains how the project aims to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which were adopted by 193 member countries on September 25, 2015: “Children ranging 9-19 years old constitute, the last generation who will be able to push real change and create an inclusive world. Girls have to be part of this change, as we cannot leave half of the world behind. STEM competencies are meant to equip our youth with the skills required for the attainment of the SGDs in 2030, and to successfully face the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, notes a zealous Graciela Rojas.
The 2030 Agenda has been regarded as a “to-do list for people and planet and a blueprint for success” as all 17 SDGs are intended to end poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change. “As I see it, STEM has to be part of the social and national agenda, a matter of National Security if you will, as we know that 5% of existing jobs will disappear in the next 5 years, while 65% of the jobs our youngest will perform are still to be created and 78% of Mexico students are simply not interested in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, where does that leave our girls?”, asks Ms. Rojas.
She adds that around 40% of Mexico employers fail to find the talent required for existing jobs, a crisis on the rise linked to the 15-year education lag Mexico faces in contrast to other countries like the U.S.A or India where STEM learning methodologies have been increasingly taking place.
“STEM is a way of facing the challenges of humanity. There are many efforts in place to promote this learning methodology in our country. Most importantly STEM Movement has to trigger change in the way we teach, it is about learning through complex problem-solving, a mix of design thinking and scientific approach, it is about bringing together technology-based solutions that include creativity and art processes.”, notes Ms. Rojas as she underlines how STEM competencies have also been listed by the Economic World Forum as skills to be equipped for the 21st century: creativity, collaboration, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, process engineering or stem competencies.
She adds, “We have a double challenge, to instill the taste of STEM subjects in our youth and to put them on the table of our public policies, a national discussion aimed at bringing together STEM, innovation and the creation of jobs that will result in the social well-being our country needs.”
Graciela Rojas understands how the promotion of STEM competencies in the national agenda can enable Mexico youth to successfully face the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and to contribute to attainment of the SGDs, “these are the times we are living, our youth has to understand that the solution they find can impact a billion people; a local solution can bring global change, this is why we need to level the scene for our girls to play their part in this change.”
STEM Movement efforts are currently addressed at in-depth research and the creation of a comprehensive STEM ecosystem in our country, that brings together all key players. “We want to certify teachers in our country to make them ambassadors of STEM movement. Agreements have also been signed for this purpose, both at local and international level to promote certifications, scholarships, and mentorships for our youth.”, says Ms. Rojas.
STEM is also deemed as a powerful empowerment strategy for girls willing to break paradigms and to be part of a new way to relate to a changing world, in the words of Ms. Rojas, “you cannot simply push gender equality, but have to attain the same end result for both players, through affirmative actions starting at a very early age. Flexibility is key to reach a work-life balance, this is another way of pushing affirmative actions for girls and boys alike.”