Object: Now Girly Means Confident
Object promotes confidence in young girls by connecting them with women role models through storytelling and experiential activities.
Object speaker Mary Leonard, Chair of Pediatrics at Stanford, shares about bone health with young girls.
Girls work in teams do the spaghetti tower design thinking challenge during our workshop with Jo Boaler, Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, and Founder of YouCubed.
During our cardmaking workshop with Laura Ching, Founder of TinyPrints, and Kirby Woodson, Founder of Petite Alma, girls learned how to design and made holiday cards.
During a workshop with Lisa Gillmor, Mayor of Santa Clara, and Kirsten Keith, Mayor of Menlo Park, girls worked in teams to brainstorm solutions to problems in their community. This activity aimed to get girls actively thinking about challenges in their community so they could work to make a change.
This summer, our chapter Prerana in Coimbatore, India hosted a workshop on superpower strengths which was modeled after a workshop hosted in the US with Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, President of StubHub. Girls made posters spotlighting their superpowers which included singing, theatre, public speaking, and cricket and shared these with the large group. I was fortunate to attend this workshop while I was on vacation.
Selina Tobaccowala, Founder of Evite and Former CTO of SurveyMonkey, discusses her passion for technology and change-making. She always wondered “could you use technology to bring people together? How do you use technology to make a change and do something for someone in the real world.” Girls got to practice being changemakers, working in teams to create solutions to address the problem of unfit youth in their community.
Stacy Brown-Philpot talked to the girls about being confident with who you are because "the only person you can be is you." She led an activity for girls to design their Tasker profiles and come up with a cause to make a positive change in their community as a part of the TaskRabbit for Good program.
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KQED (NPR San Francisco) Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/user-909991770/girls-in-stem-manat-kaur
Post by Doug McMillon, Wal-Mart CEO: https://www.facebook.com/dougmcmillon/posts/2485832218310873?comment_tracking=%7B%22tn%22%3A%22O%22%7D
Date You Started Your Project Started
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Today, young girls fall victim to media/social messages that dictate acceptable behavior. Already vulnerable to peer pressure, these can affect girls’ confidence, deterring them from exploring their passions. I personally suffered from this. Interacting with other girls, I realized this is a broader issue. Boosting girls’ confidence by connecting them with women role models enables girls to become leaders & changemakers, closing the gender gap.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
I started Object to promote self-image, confidence and self-esteem in young girls by connecting them with women role models through storytelling. The name comes from objecting to negative female stereotypes. With chapters in the US, India, Palestine and soon Tajikistan, we host monthly, experiential workshops with women leaders in various fields—authors, doctors, entrepreneurs— educating girls by example and stories.
Our workshops are the stepping stone between girls discovering and having a passion and them pursuing it full-force. The workshops have three parts: a fireside chat, an activity led by the speaker, and a reception.
During the fireside chat, we ask women to share their journey, challenges faced, and the role of confidence in their life. Next, the interactive activity allows girls to explore the speaker’s field of work hands-on. We choose activities that promote teamwork and strong presentation skills. Lastly, the reception allows girls to connect 1:1 with the speaker and each other.
The intimacy and speakers’ stories demystify success and promote self-esteem so girls pursue their passions. We aim to promote the feeling: “if she can do it, so can I.”
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
I’ve always loved STEM. In elementary school, I spent recess in the science lab and enjoyed STEM classes. Transitioning into middle school, I noticed girls around me change; many focused on their appearances, boys, and reality TV. Trying to be popular, I stopped participating in class, quit robotics, and skipped STEM workshops.
My confidence took a hit. Opening up to my friends, I realized I wasn’t alone. I decided to do something about it.
As a Youth Reporter for Sports Illustrated Kids and Scholastic News, I’ve seen the power of storytelling. For my articles, I interviewed many successful women leaders, who always left me with the uplifting feeling of “if she can do it, so can I.” I wished my friends could hear their stories as well.
Finally in seventh grade, after talking to many friends and their parents, I decided to connect girls with women role models through storytelling
4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”
I am stepping up to make change... video by Manat Kaur and Betelihem Essa.
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
At Object, we focus on allowing girls to step into their changemaker agency. Having struggled with her confidence to run well, Anne* was inspired by our superpower strength workshop with Sukhinder Cassidy. When she asked to join the Object team, we walked through various areas where we needed help—from finding speakers to outreach and organization building—and let her pick.
Having our team members work on something they enjoy means they dedicate more time towards it, enabling higher-quality events and a bigger impact. Now, Anne recruits speakers. Like Anne, my 30 other teammates run chapters in US, India and Palestine with local women role models as speakers. The 10 girls on our Youth Advisory Board bring Object workshops to their schools through clubs. Object sparked a new passion for these girls: helping boost other girls’ confidence.
*Name has been changed to protect identity
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
There exist many programs to get girls involved in STEM and other fields. However, self-confidence is a prerequisite for young girls to pursue their passions. Our platform uniquely focuses on providing young girls exposure to women role models from a variety of career paths to bolster the feeling of “if she can do it, so can I.” By sharing these women’s stories, facilitating interactions in casual settings, and allowing girls to take risks by trying something new, we boost confidence and self-esteem in young girls.
As Sheryl Sandberg says, “believing in yourself is the first step.”
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Last year, over 1500 girls attended Object workshops in three countries. One of the girls wrote, “I learned you should follow your passions no matter what label you are given.”
After attending our workshops, 94% girls reported an increase in confidence, 90% were more likely to follow their passions, and 87% tried an activity in a field they had never tried before.
Our workshops have inspired 40 girls globally to join the Object leadership team and become changemakers - 30 girls who recruit speakers and lead Object chapters across US, India and Palestine, and another 10 girls on our new Youth Advisory Board who bring Object workshops to their schools.
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
We are opening a new chapter in Tajikistan this year. In October, Object is kicking off its new Youth Advisory Board (YAB) with 10 members from four countries. They will bring Object workshops to their schools via clubs. We will meet monthly by video to discuss what is working and brainstorm ideas to grow Object’s impact.
Additionally, next summer, we will launch #WeekWithWomenLeaders fellowship. We will bring 10 low-income girls from across the country to San Francisco for three days to spend time with women leaders, professors, and athletes.
In April, we are launching #SeeHerMark program which will allow 15 girls from Silicon Valley to spend a day shadowing women leaders in a variety of fields, seeing them in action.
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations between $1k-$5k
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
Communities of color
Religious minority (non-Christian)
How did you hear about this challenge?
Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
Ashoka page or contact