I am Generation Equality: Gitanjali Rao, young scientist and activist

Billions of people across the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.


I am Generation Equality
Gitanjali Rao at work in the lab. Photo courtesy of Gitanjali Rao
Gitanjali Rao at work in the lab. Photo courtesy of Gitanjali Rao.

I am Generation Equality because…

“Equality is important to represent all opinions and perspectives to solve tomorrow’s problems.

Three ways you can encourage girls in STEM:

  • If you are an adult in the STEM field, be a mentor and a guide.
  • If you are in Universities or research labs, open up your lab.
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  • Girls, reach out and seek the opportunities. Do not wait for somebody.

Solutions of tomorrow need different perspectives and they need collaboration. If everybody working on innovation thinks the same way, we will have solutions that work only for certain groups.

I have been part of coding and STEM camps, where sometimes I was the only girl. I believe everybody, no matter their age, should pursue what they are passionate about and use their talent to make a difference.

I pursued my research and innovation and saw a need to share my experience, process and journey with students, especially girls, to [inspire them] to keep pursuing their passion.

A very simple step, and the one that each one of us can do, is respecting differences. Respecting that there are no woman and man skill sets and giving an opportunity to everybody. No matter who they are.

Encouraging girls in STEM

Girls have more opportunities in STEM today than before, but what is lacking is the [enabling] infrastructure and environment. There are many reasons, but the lack of role models and pay equality are the major ones. 

I know several of my female friends become interested in STEM when they see a direct connection between how it applies to the real world. We like to see art combined with STEM; we like to see role models and get inspired. We like to see that we can continue our careers and our colleagues will support it.

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“Solutions of tomorrow need different perspectives.”

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Girls are all unique and introducing STEM, in the same manner [to all girls], may not be universally effective. I lead workshops that focus on finding what girls like to do, and then introducing STEM [as it relates to their interests]. 

Just introducing girls to coding or STEM may not increase their participation.

Introduce them to a variety of technologies and fields. Let us pick and choose. 

Youth leaders for global good

The ingenuity of youth needs to be harnessed. We should not restrict research, innovation, entrepreneurship in Universities and organizations. If we are serious about getting the future workforce ready, involving us and giving us opportunities and listening to our perspectives and opinions matter.

 My advice to girls is to find your talent, your passion and use it to make a difference, even if it’s impacting just one other person.

Gitanjali Rao is a 15-year-old Indian-American scientist, inventor, author and advocate. In 2020, she was named Time Magazine’s first ever Kid of the Year for her work using technology to tackle a range of issues and bringing together young innovators to solve global problems. She recently gave an interview to UN Women in support of the Generation Equality campaign.