littleBits, The Walt Disney Company and UC Davis Launch Snap the Gap, an Ambitious Program to Close the Gender Gap in STEM

by STEMconnector


littleBits, the educational technology company that is reinventing the way kids learn, today announced a program in collaboration with media giant The Walt Disney Company that aims to close the gender gap in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) starting at the point of highest leverage: 10-year-old girls. Participants in the program will receive a STEM Starter Pack, a one-year immersion in an inventor community, and mentorship by an inspiring adult in STEM.

Unlike programs aimed primarily at raising awareness, Snap the Gap is a solution-based program. It will kick off with a year-one pilot valued at $4 million, for 15,000 girls in California. UC Davis, which leads California Million Women Mentors, will help recruit participants and mentors, and it will measure the impact of the program. With this launch, Snap the Gap is calling on STEM professionals to join the movement and volunteer as mentors or partners. More information can be found at SnapTheGap.org.

Data shows that the gender gap in STEM appears around the fourth grade and continues at various milestones in a girl’s school and career trajectory. For the past seven years, littleBits has been capturing girls’ interest in STEM, and the company will use its insights to equip girls with tools to propel their interests further and a support system to help them withstand cultural and systemic forces they may encounter.

Girls’ interest and participation in STEM decline over time, starting in grade four. Source: PLoS

“Over the past decade, billions of dollars have been spent but the rate of women in STEM careers still hasn’t changed,” said Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO at littleBits. “Not only do we need to start earlier, but we have to give girls more support throughout their journey. Snap the Gap is a solution-oriented program that aims to make real, measurable change and break this troubling pattern.”

In this pilot, 15,000 girls in California will receive a littleBits STEM Starter Pack with an estimated retail value of $300funded by The Walt Disney Company. The Snap the Gap Program includes:

  • Immersion in a Safe Community of Inventors: Girls will be enrolled for one year into JAM.com, the largest paid subscription course platform for kids. This is a safe space for girls to feel as though they belong and meet like-minded peers with whom they can invent and share their work.
  • Mentorship: Girls who have mentors are 2.5 times more likely to be confident in their ability to succeed in school and careers. That’s why UC Davis and CA Million Women Mentors will pair girls with mentors and provide technical assistance to mentors and site coordinators to allow girls to experience a deeper level of engagement while growing a strong STEM identity.

After the first-year pilot, Snap the Gap intends to add five new states to its efforts, reaching all 50 of the United States in 10 years. There are roughly 2 million 10-year-old girls in the United States, and at its peak, Snap the Gap intends to reach every single one of them.

“We have a history of successful collaboration with littleBits, pairing our beloved characters and stories with imaginative, interactive technology to inspire children, especially girls, to embrace and explore the power and possibilities of STEM,” said Christine McCarthy, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “With Ayah’s passion and her company’s innovative approach to education through play, we believe littleBits is uniquely positioned to help close the gender gap in STEM. Disney is proud to support this groundbreaking effort to create new and engaging opportunities for girls to develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed.”

Said Bdeir: “Our goal is not for every 10-year-old girl to grow up to be a programmer or an engineer. Snap the Gap is about exposing young girls to the power of STEM in an environment full of creativity and free of stereotypes, so they can grow up to be confident change-makers.”

For more information, please visit www.SnaptheGap.org.

About The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), together with its subsidiaries, is a diversified worldwide entertainment company with operations in four business segments: Media Networks; Studio Entertainment; Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products; and Direct-to-Consumer and International. Disney is a Dow 30 company and had annual revenues of $55.1 billion in its Fiscal Year 2017.

About UC Davis
Since UC Davis first opened in 1908, we’ve been known for standout academics, sustainability and Aggie Pride as well as valuing the Northern California lifestyle. These themes are woven into our 100-plus-year history and our reputation for solving problems related to foodhealth, the environment and society.

UC Davis has a student enrollment of 39,152 in Fall 2018, in 102 major programs and 96 graduate programs. There are 4,736 faculty and academic staff and other 17,272 other employees, plus 9,690 student employees. The university had $846 million in research funding in 2017-18. More can be found at https://www.ucdavis.edu/about.

About littleBits
littleBits is an education tech company that is transforming the way kids learn so they can grow up to be tomorrow’s changemakers — no matter their age, gender, race, nationality, or ability. It has sold millions of its STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) kits in over 70 countries. Its online learning community JAM that helps kids turn their passions into creative skills has more than 1.5 million projects uploaded by kids in subjects such as astronomy, pizza making, and woodworking. Almost 40 percent of the kids using littleBits kits are girls, which is four times the industry average.