He is CEO of the organization, and after hearing about my statements he contacted me and said since you feel strongly about this and I have similar interests, then if you agree I will use our resources and go to Turkey and educate our girls in STEM.
We specifically wanted to emphasize STEM because it is a fact of life — even at UNC, professors who have degrees in STEM make more money than in humanities. So to be competitive, we should emphasize STEM education — not that humanities education isn’t important, of course it is important.
DTH: How will you be assisting this project given your busy schedule?
AS: I gave a video conference, and I will participate in various press conferences after the initial program is completed, on May the 24th I believe. Right now the plan is to have STEM camps in seven cities for a hundred girls in each city, so 700 in total, and when it is completed then there will be a closing function which I will attend in Turkey.
DTH: Why is this particularly beneficial in Turkey?
AS: What I said when I commented about our girls’ education is that if we don’t educate our girls, we basically lose 50 percent of our workforce, and that is what it is. What struck me when I was on sabbatical in Taiwan in 2014 is when I would take the Metro to go to places, I would see that in rush hour the gender divide there was still 50-50 ... you do not see that in Turkey, so it is clear we are not using half of our workforce, and there is no reason not to do this.
There is also a stigma about girls being bad at mathematics — it is fiction. There are frequently studies, and a recent one I read in a major scientific journal showed there is no difference in mathematical capabilities due to gender. But it is fiction that has been maintained which is self-perpetuating: You tell your daughter, or imply it, that you aren’t going to be good in math, then the stigma continues, and it is not true.
My favorite teacher was in the Turkish newspapers yesterday — she was my favorite teacher, who made me love math, and she was female. She was one of the best teachers I ever had. This is just one example, but there are studies that confirm there is no innate difference between mathematical aptitude between females and males, so this fiction has been perpetuated throughout the ages yet is incorrect.