Nurturing tomorrow’s female STEM leaders

Evgeniya Russkikh
Head of Cybersecurity Education at Kaspersky

As schools have the potential to serve as training grounds for young minds to learn about and embrace gender inclusivity, they play a crucial role in changing the future of the tech industry and increasing the number of women working in the IT industry. Consequently, supporting girls who are still in school is key to this transformation process.


School is an institution that shapes the minds of children, provides them with the tools they need to succeed in life, and determines the future of the younger generation.

Many secondary schools provide career orientation initiatives involving workshops and lectures given by industry professionals. These experiences hold significant value for numerous children, as they allow young people to learn about various professions and help them find role models.

However, in practice, the technical institutes involved in school career fairs are mainly represented by male students and professors, as they constitute the biggest demographic IT universities.

Given these facts, how can girls see IT professionals role models?

Think back to how you felt as a child. Surely, it would have been much easier for you to navigate this challenging path if you had had a female role model: a strong and bright girl who succeeded in such a male-dominated realm as STEM. So why not become that role model yourself?

Even if you’re not a school math or physics teacher, you can still help these teenage girls.

Currently, there seems to be a «hidden curriculum»: a set of norms, values, and beliefs «which are learned but not openly intended.» In effect, it reinforces existing social inequalities and stereotypes. For instance, it promotes the stereotype that only boys are capable of excelling in math and physics, suggesting girls should avoid these fields and veer towards humanities and liberal arts.

However, you can lead by example, showing adolescent girls how to change the «rules of the game.» Where could you start?


Take the initiative yourself. Start with baby steps: for example, offer to host a small workshop for students at your old school. This initiative needn’t be limited to talking about your own career path. To demonstrate how cool the tech industry is, you can organize simple activities or fun science experiments. After all, STEM isn’t just about intricate coding and complex computing concepts, which might seem intimidating at first (although it’s actually rather fascinating). It’s mostly about having a knack for math, thinking critically, and exploring the world in a variety of ways.

It is essential to ensure that gender equality among students during classes is supported through:

\\ Making sure all students have a fair shot at answering questions in class

\\ Encouraging students of all genders to participate in discussions

\\ Listening to everyone’s ideas and respecting every comment made

\\ Ensuring that working groups and group leaders are mixed-gender

\\ Encouraging all students of all genders to present the results of group work equally

\\ Giving everyone similar tasks without sticking to traditional gender roles

If you enjoy addressing audiences, approach your company with a proposal to become a public speaker in educational initiatives. The more we help adolescent girls, the more we fight against gender inequality in the industry. And in the end, you’ll see the fruits of your labor.


I’m really proud of the education project we implemented in Saudi Arabia last year. It was a special training program for young people interested in cybersecurity. Words cannot express how proud I was when, as a result, two out of three internships were offered to girls. They were the ones who demonstrated the brightest qualities required to be a specialist in the IT industry. As they later admitted, they chose the tech industry because they had met women from IT who inspired them and served as examples.

Tackling the gender gap in the tech industry is a long journey that will take several years. But by guiding secondary school girls in finding their own paths, and defying outdated social norms without fear, we can gradually transform this landscape and pave the way for an equitable future for everyone.