International Day of Women and Girls in Science
“Little girls with dreams become women with vision.” – Unknown
Female contribution to science is indisputable, with many researchers and scientists making life-changing discoveries. In 2021, UN Women published an article that highlighted the valuable contributions of female scientists during the pandemic. However, there is much more of the glass ceiling that needs shattering – the gender gap in scientific inquiry still exists, with women accounting for less than 30% of the world’s researchers. At TeachAids, women have been at the forefront of many of our critical initiatives – ideating, creating and leading, every step of the way.
TeachAids’ work involves digging deep into complex biology-based subjects and finding ways to communicate this information to diverse audiences effectively. We have discussed HIV, brain injuries and COVID-19 on our platform – all pertinent health topics, two of which are known to disproportionately affect women. This is why it’s been especially important to ensure women play leadership roles in crafting and advancing science education.
Since our founding in 2009, thousands of talented women have made our work possible. This International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we’d like to recognize the extraordinary female leaders who worked hard and never gave up on our dream to develop the most effective and compelling evidence-based health education for the masses.
Activist, Author, Nobel Prize Nominee, and Founder of The Global Fund for Women, and Advisor to TeachAids, Anne Firth Murray’s teachings inspired many seminal ideas behind the development of TeachAids products. Her work pioneered the need for addressing various populations and their specific and diverse requirements, particularly in the area of women’s health. Creating different gender versions of the TeachAids HIV education content was important because of the stark discrepancies between men and women and the high degree of underrepresentation in product development that can help to innovatively solve for these differences. Shabana Azmi came onboard TeachAids’ first prominent HIV campaign, lending her voice and avatar for the Hindi version. A beloved actress and a woman who held a parliamentary position, she was a prominent figure and role model in India who cared deeply about these injustices. At a time when there was huge cultural stigma associated with HIV, and many were hesitant to be publicly associated with the cause, Ms. Azmi’s involvement and willingness to highlight that it was perfectly safe to touch people with HIV started a domino effect of leadership and courage. This campaign was immensely successful and kick-started a chain reaction of bravery, inspiring many other personalities and public figures to collaborate with TeachAids. Amala Akkineni was a well-known Indian personality who left her highly successful acting career in her 20s to pursue social work. As Goodwill Ambassador at UNICEF, she represented the rights of children for many years, joining TeachAids as a trustee and was instrumental in rallying people to develop compassion and action in the fight against HIV. Shelley Goldman was one of TeachAids’ early advisors who had helped with integral research aspects of designing the curriculum at Stanford University. The qualitative nature of her work and engagement-focused learning methods helped us develop customs-sensitive content and culturally appropriate euphemisms. With twelve years of dedication in building science education, Aparna Khare leads technology efforts at TeachAids. She has been hands-on with every aspect of programming, content, performing translations, solving technically difficult problems as well as managing other engineers while being a valuable mentor to so many students. Diana Anthony, from Stanford’s Neurosurgical Simulation and V.R. Center, helped to write the script for TeachAids Brain Fly-Through production – an initiative that provided deeper insight into the study of the brain through scientifically accurate visual representations. She also co-led our CoviDB for Kids initiative that aggregates content for kids of different age groups with videos on various topics related to COVID-19, breaking them down into easily understandable terms. Meanwhile, Seble Kassaye also opened the doors for TeachAids content in South Africa, Botswana and Ethiopia. With her medical background and ability to simplify complex scientific concepts, Dr. Kassaye worked to distill the more difficult biological underpinnings in the TeachAids HIV script into simple messages without losing meaning of the content.
We’d also like to acknowledge the wonderful work of our female leads who managed different aspects of product development. These include: Janan Barge, Christine Chen, Tenzin Dhaze, Shuyu Ding, Chandrima Gogoi, Ingrid Inema, Tumisang Madigele, Kate Mellor, Supriya Misra, Kesaobaka Modukanele, Elena Mosse, Ankita Patro, Lila Pavey, Elizabeth Stevenson, Haiyang Yang among many more. Our multi-talented product leads worked patiently and passionately on translating and disseminating resources in regional languages and to diverse audiences. Their sacrifices and investment in TeachAids have built a sound foundation for our offerings. Nruthya Madappa, for example, gave up a lucrative job offer after graduation instead to volunteer with TeachAids. She felt this role would help her answer a calling and way to give back to her home country and state. She worked on building Kannada language versions of the HIV content targeted to educate more than 60 million people. More than a decade since her first involvement with TeachAids, she now continues her dedicated efforts as a Trustee of TeachAids India Trust, our sister company in India. Each of these women came to TeachAids with their unique stories and through their work became an indelible part of our history and future.
At the heart of TeachAids is the deep-rooted friendship of Ashwini Doshi and Piya Sorcar. The two met as students at Stanford, shared the vision of developing impactful life-changing education for children and went on to build TeachAids together. Despite losing Ashwini on World AIDS Day, December 1st 2017, her playful spirit, insatiable passion and dedication to quality will live on forever. We promise to do all we can to continue your legacy and make you proud.
On this special day, we celebrate the countless women who have been the backbone of the TeachAids organization without which we would not be who we are today.