“My most exciting memory after this class? When we were asked who we are, we all said they were our mothers,” says 14-year-old Hannah. Hania was one of the participants in the mentoring program of the Inspiring Girls Polska and 3M for girls of the eighth grade of Primary School No. 8 in Wroclaw.
What was this program about? For 6 months, 12 students from the school adjacent to the factories of Wroclaw of 3M participated in meetings with 3 engineers from 3M, or the so-called female role model. The experts worked with the girls to increase their self-confidence and bring out the highlights and shades of the jobs they do.
Takes role models for girls
The study by Inspiring Girls Polska shows that in girls aged 10-15, their self-esteem drops significantly and they are more prone to unfavorable stereotypes. For this reason, the Foundation focuses on activities aimed at primary school students.
As an organization, we know how important it is to show girls the diverse and inspiring role models of women who play different professional and life roles. Thus, we strengthen teens’ self-confidence in the areas they decide to develop thanks to this inspiration. 3M is the first company that, as a partner, has supported the Foundation’s activities in Poland, and 3M employees have also served as “model roles” in working with girls. Thanks to this, we jointly carry out activities aimed at the younger generation, who desperately need our support – major stakeholders, among others from business, NGOs or the world of science — Elisa Durka, Founder and President of Inspiring Girls Polska, explains. He also assures that children between the ages of 10 and 15, with whom the foundation works, will be in the labor market in just a few years. Inspirational Girls Polska encourages companies to get involved and take a long-term perspective on the Foundation’s activities and their impact on social change in Poland.
I have never analyzed my history or my career path. Only before meeting at school, while preparing for classes, did I realize that my mother was my biggest inspiration and helped me make my life choices. – says Alexandra Dodic, 3M engineer and “role model” on the programme. – As it turns out in the classroom, the mother is also a role model and inspiration for most students. I believe that this authority agreement has facilitated the building of a relationship between us as a “role model” and the participants in the program Alexandra Dodic adds.
The responses of adolescents from primary school in Wroclaw coincided with the results of the survey conducted by the Inspiring Girls Polska “Aspirations of Girls in Poland”. 61 percent of the surveyed girls indicated that the mother is the most important authority for them.
“It is great that my mum remains the first role model for the girls we have worked with. It has been very motivating for me, especially since I have two children Magdalena Walchuck, 3M engineer and “role model” on the show confirms.
Journey to yourself
As part of the program, students identify their skills and strengths. They researched the inspiring people in their immediate surroundings and discovered what a standard work day looks like for each “role model”.
– At first it was very stressful and I didn’t know how to act or talk. Over time, I started waiting for these classes a lot and when I came to them, I forgot that I just had cards or exams – Remember Hania.
The beginning of the program required breaking down barriers, which was confirmed by Alexandra Dodic: –We had to build relationships with the participants and earn their trust. He was getting better with each class. I wanted to show girls that it is worth pursuing your dreams, setting goals and achieving them. This does not mean that the path to it will be easy. It can be bumpy and challenging at times, but it’s these experiences that shape who we are.
– I was inspired by the way the ladies spoke about themselves – that it was not easy for them to get this job and that they faced various obstacles on their way. Now, when I have an obstacle to overcome, I will remember that if they succeed, so can I Hania, rest assured.
The girls were more interested in the classes, where the “model roles” talked about themselves and their work in detail.
– I saw the full commitment of the participants especially during the last two meetings, where we talked about our own past and our career, and about the advantages and disadvantages of our profession. We showed videos from a normal working day and disappointment in some job titles – says Magdalena and Chuck.
Program participants listened to the engineers’ stories about their work with such interest that “Role Modelers” decided to invite students to visit the factory and the 3M Innovation Center in Wroclaw.
The program helps you discover your advantages and discover yourself – incl. Students noted these benefits in an anonymous survey conducted after the end of the series of meetings. When the girls were asked what they remembered most, they emphasized that everyone can be whatever they want and that one does not have to take other people’s opinion into account.
– I learned more about myself and my best qualities, which increased my motivation 15-year-old Amelia accepts one of the participants in the program. – I was already thinking about the direction I wanted to take, and these classes convinced me that I could do it. I have already applied to high school for uniformed services for the class of paramedics.
Empowering women and girls is one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for the coming years. In addition to the Elementary School Student Program, 3M also participates in these activities through the Women’s Leadership Forum initiatives. The company has been collaborating for several years with the Perspektywy Education Foundation, which promotes the development of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 3M experts participate in the Women in Tech Summit, oversee the online festival for women at Perspektywy Women in Tech Days, and also participate in the organized tech afternoon tea for science students. All this in order – although the mother remains the most important authority for young Polish women – to expand the pool of inspiring people that teens can design themselves to the fullest.
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