2014 NCWIT Summit – Special Guest Maria Bello, Actress and Activist

[applause] [upbeat music]

MARIA BELLO: Thank you so much, Carrie. Thank you Andrea. Thank you Lucy. What an incredible, incredible event. I’m not really the biggest technologist in the world. I didn’t even know what STEM was until I met my friend Clare. But when I heard about this conference it’s just amazing what you’re doing. And Emmanuel, you’ve created a movement with FEM, not only in movie, and thank you for introducing me to Andrea and DevelopHer. Where are the young women that just got honored? Congratulations! [applause] I mean. Not only are you an inspiration to other young girls, but you’re an inspiration to my son. I want him to meet every single one of you. [laughing] I’m not kidding. Not only to date, but also, but also because of the dedication and excitement you have around programming and computing. Because he loves video games, and if he would just get more into it, right, he could make his own. Is that correct? I just figured that out. [laughing] Anyway, congratulations again, and I’m so excited to be in a world where you’re gonna be the leaders of our future. Thank you. [applause] And I’m honored tonight in celebration of this tenth anniversary to read this letter from first lady Michelle Obama. The White House, May 12th, 2014. It is my pleasure to send my warmest greetings to all those celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the National Center for Women and Information Technology. For a decade, the National Center for Women and Information Technology has worked diligently to encourage and equip women and girls in the field of computing and technology. By helping organizations recruit, retain, and advance women in this field, the National Center for Women and Information Technology has helped develop the careers of Americans across our nation and generated lasting change in countless organizations. Your efforts have made a real impact on both individuals and organizations. And for that I’m incredibly grateful. But our work to ensure equality in the field of computing and technology is far from over. We must continue to strive toward a future that enables America’s youth to succeed. And that means encouraging young people, especially girls, to go into technology and computing. It is my firm belief that inspiring our next generation to become interested and impassioned by this field of study will lead our country to a better, brighter future. I want to thank the National Center for Women and Information Technology for all you have done and will continue to do for our next generation. And I wish you all the best for an enjoyable and successful summit. Michelle Obama. [applause] And tonight I’m gonna tell you about an exciting new initiative from DevelopHer, but before that I just have to laugh a little bit for the fact that I’m standing here. I’m not an engineer. I am rather challenged with any form of technology as I said. The only science I remember is, from grade school was dissecting a pig. When my son asked me to help him with his math homework I have to pretend that I know what I’m talking about, but I really don’t at all. So, so why is it important for me to, why is STEM important to me? To encourage girls in this area. And the truth is, when I look around me, even driving down the highway and see a car, I realize it’s everywhere. Engineering, science, mathematics, and technology. Everywhere we look, in the job place today, everything around us has to do with STEM. And as Dr. Michael Kimmel said, in his excellent talk today, on gender equity, we need to engage men the same way as we need to engage girls and women. We need to become more engaged in understanding the areas where men have been, had the majority of power. Because it’s only through young women and women like us who are stepping forward, and stepping into those positions, and those power leadership roles that things are gonna change. So I’m proud to be launching DevelopHer toys and game challenge. As their intention is to create toys that girls will wish to play with and yet ensure the toys help develop spatial logic and other analytical skills critical to science, technology, engineering, and math. How they do this, I have no idea. [laughing] But they certainly do know. My son is obsessed with soccer, okay. Thankfully he’s really good at it, ’cause I have to go to the middle of nowhere every single weekend for hours at a time to watch him play soccer. His number one thing to do at home is to play FIFA, a video game called FIFA. And when we asked him, do they have a girls’ FIFA, like a girls’ soccer team? He said yeah, but girls don’t really, girls don’t really play games so much. So even for technology for computing for gaming, what’s a way to get young girls interested in that as well I’d love to know. So when I heard about a DevelopHer toy challenge about actual toys that you could hold on to. When I heard Andrea’s story about the chess set, and the board, I want to understand why I walk down a toy aisle in a store and there’s the girls’ section and the boys’ section. Why are things pink over here, why everything’s blue over there. I could never understand it for my son either. So that has all been very puzzling to me. It intrigues me, what you’re doing. And for empowering girls and women the way that you are. In fact, I find myself full in the center, in an odd way, in this technology, new technology for women and girls. With, co-founded with Clare Munn, we have a project called We Advance University, it’s in beta stage. But it’s to use technology to connect women all over Haiti, and eventually women all over the world. So I’m learning a little bit about what you all do. And if there’s going to be intelligence-based toys and games created that are actually interesting to girls like me, who wanted to play dress-up, watch old films, and play with Barbie dolls, then sign me up. There has to be some room for all of us in this toy challenge. The rules of the challenge are very simple. One, you have to review new games and toys that help young girls develop their spatial reasoning and other skills necessary for the STEM field. Two, the challenge calls for toys that are educational and appealing. The challenge will put the DevelopHer’s stamp of approval on toys that build off research on how girls and all children learn. And three, of course, to succeed in their mission those toys must also be fun. And with that, the DevelopHer toy and game challenge is now on. Stay tuned in with developherchallenge.org for more information, but for now we invite you to see the toys that we have selected for examples on display at the community reception. These provide models of the types of toys that they are looking for. So thank you once again. Thank you for your inspiration, and congratulations. [applause]

LUCY SANDERS: Thank you. Thank you. All right, wasn’t that fun? Okay the community reception is coming up next. And this is your final, maybe it’s not quite your final, Housekeeping and Cybermind have one more. But really go to the community reception, have a lot of fun, look at the toys. Some of these vendors they’ve traveled a long distance, they’re eager to have your eyes on these toys, so give them some feedback and have a good time with them. The community reception, when you go out there, you’ll see that we have a surprise planned for you with the food, we have food trucks coming. So, oh. [laughs] My favorite is the grilled cheese sandwich food truck, but In-N-Out burger seems to be things that I’m picking up other places. So please do have fun at the community reception. And thank our sponsors, Cox Communications, Johnson & Johnson, and Microsoft for funding this community reception. We have so many of you here we had to ask for some extra money. To roll those food trucks in. [laughing] So breakfast starts tomorrow at seven. The workshops that you went to earlier today, repeat tomorrow, so you get to pick another one, and go tomorrow morning. And then you go back to your alliance meetings for just a little bit of time there for a wrap-up, and then we reconvene here at 10:45 for another special award ceremony from the academic alliance. A lot of nice awards being handed out there. And then we have special guest Chelsea Clinton joining us and Donna Brazile. So we end on an inspirational note, and we’ll have some really good dialogue there. If you would like your question asked to Chelsea Clinton, please do tweet it to us. We’ll be looking at them tonight. And yours might get picked, all right? Who’s gonna do that? You’re just gonna be at the food truck lining up. [laughing] But please get it done, maybe before you go to the food trucks. And then your question might be asked. These are the workshops again. Is that a food truck? [laughing] Oh and see they took it off really fast from the back. Thank you so much. Whatever that was. So with that, what a wonderful day. Have fun at the reception. Thank you so much to all of our speakers and guests. Thank you. [applause] [background chatter]

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