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So What Does Girls’ Education Have to Do with Musical Pumpkins?

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Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, CFO Stacy Smith and SVP Bill Holt talk with the YWCA’s TechGYRLS about their vegetable remix programmed with MIT’s Scratch software and a Makey Makey kit. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, CFO Stacy Smith and SVP Bill Holt talk with the YWCA’s TechGYRLS about their vegetable remix programmed with MIT’s Scratch software and a Makey Makey kit.

Yesterday was not your normal day at the office.  I learned how to make a musical instrument out of a pumpkin.

To kick off Intel’s celebrations of the UN’s  
International Day of the Girl, we hosted a great group of middle school girls from the YMCA’s TechGYRLS program at our headquarters in Santa Clara. The girls spent the day working on a “Maker” activity to design circuits to play music through a variety of everyday objects, including pumpkins.  A number of our senior leaders volunteered at the event, engaging one-on-one with the girls in the activity. We also invited Sylvia Todd a.k.a “Super Awesome Sylvia” to talk with the girls and the executive team – Sylvia is a 12-year-old maker who recently raised $90,000 in Kickstarter funds for her WaterColorBot kit. As I sat with two of the TechGYRLS Jaclyn and Sandra, watching them attach wires to pumpkins, bananas, eggplants, peppers, watermelons (and even at one point a burrito), confident in their ability to troubleshoot and build something as a team, I thought about the power of education and the transformative and pivotal role it plays in all of our lives.

Today is the second International Day of the Girl (IDG), which this year has the theme of “Innovating for Girls’ Education.” As part of Intel’s commitment to empowering girls and women through education and technology, we are supporting the IDG celebrations of 10x10 and the Girl Rising campaign, to empower individuals, schools, and companies to host events in support of girls education during the month of October. We are also participating in UNICEF celebrations in NY, partnering with a number of the 10x10 NGOs to host community screenings around the world, and holding an Intel Global Giveback Day for our employees. In total, more than 50 Girl Rising screenings and Intel employee volunteer events across more than 20 countries are planned, as well as IDG-related activities through the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network and Intel for Change campuses.

Why are we doing all of this? Because today 66 million girls are still not in school, and 33 million fewer girls are in school than boys. But yet, the opportunity of investing in girls’ education is staggering.  A girl with an extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult, and when 10% more girls go to school, a country's GDP can increase by 3%. While we need to continue to invest in education for all, we also urgently need to accelerate the closing of this gender gap. We also are committed to addressing another very important gap – the gap in the number of girls and women pursuing and staying in STEM studies and technology careers. Today, In the U.S., women earn only 18% of computer or information sciences undergraduate degrees. We are working to inspire more girls and women to become creators of technology, and to help close the gender internet gap by connecting and empowering more women around the world through technology with our new She Will Connect program.

This International Day of the Girl, I also think of the words and brave actions of Malala Yousafzai who said: “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen, can change the world.”  Every girl holds the power to change the world. We just need to educate her.

Learn about what people globally are doing to celebrate the day at @intelinvolved and @girlrising and upload a selfie with hashtag #WeAreGirlRising to join in the day and spread the word about the importance of girls’ education.
About the Author
Suzanne Fallender is Intel’s Director of Corporate Responsibility. In this role, she collaborates with key stakeholders across the company to integrate corporate responsibility concepts into company strategies, policies, public reporting, and stakeholder engagement activities to advance Intel’s corporate responsibility leadership and create positive social impact and business value. Suzanne leads a team of experienced professionals who engage with internal and external groups to review Intel’s corporate responsibility performance and to identify new opportunities to apply Intel’s technology and expertise to address social and environmental challenges. The team also works closely with Intel’s investor relations and corporate governance groups to drive an integrated outreach strategy with investors on governance and corporate responsibility issues. Suzanne has more than 20 years of experience in the field of corporate responsibility and socially responsible investment. During her time at Intel, Suzanne has held a number of corporate responsibility-related roles, including leading programs empowering girls and women through technology. Prior to Intel, Suzanne served as Vice President at Institutional Shareholder Services where she managed the firm’s socially responsible investing division. Suzanne holds an M.B.A. from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and a B.A. from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. She has served on a number of leading industry advisory boards and committees on sustainability and corporate responsibility over the past decade and currently is a member of the Net Impact Board of Directors. Follow Suzanne on Twitter at @sfallender.