With less than a third of world researchers or STEM graduates as women, accelerating achievement of gender parity is not just a fairness argument but an economic imperative. EY and Tribal Planet have launched an innovative gamified platform that engages girls from underserved communities in fun, practical and gamified STEM learning. Through the platform, the innovation has energised public-private partnership, connecting governments and citizens to create an ecosystem of support, awareness and encouragement.
Igniting STEM passion in young people is critical in creating a future generation equipped to address our planet’s most pressing challenges. Further, STEM is a vital tool for girls to facilitate gender inclusion in the workplace, particularly in the Science and Technology fields. Research delivers a stark message:
- Gender parity will not be attained for almost 100 years
- In over 100 years there are 17 women Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry or medicine, compared to 572 men
Our vision is to ignite a movement that enables to address of the following structural challenges:
- Conscious and unconscious bias communicated to girls at young ages by ‘influencers’ (parents, family, teachers and their peer group)
- Stereotyping of STEM as a ‘male’ profession
- Drop-out rates of women through STEM education
- Lack of women STEM role model visibility to inspire girls
EY and Tribal Planet’s endeavour is to encourage and inspire young women to partake in the creation of a more equitable and sustainable world through the power of STEM. EY STEM Tribe is a platform available on iOS and Android devices that engages girls, their parents and teachers. It focuses on girls aged 13-18 from underserved backgrounds in India (Delhi) and USA (Seattle and Atlanta). It is free to download and use. It is not an EduTech solution and is designed to engage girls outside of school in topics that they are interested in. There are three core aspects:
- Girls complete gamified activities around STEM, the Future of Work and Female Role Models. Activities are designed to trigger real-life actions that encourage girls to step beyond their phone and explore their world. This includes completing experiments, collecting crowd-sourced data for scientific research, exploring their environment or engaging with members of their community. Activities are curated in collaboration with some of the world’s leading academic and non-profit organizations. As girls complete activities, they earn digital UNDP SDG badges for the global goals the activities impact.
- Applying behaviour economics, girls earn points for completing activities. They can redeem points for rewards in three categories. Fun (Reward themselves e.g. robotics kits), Important (Develop themselves e.g. mentoring and work experiences) and Lasting (Support others – donations to non-profits that they care about). Girls do not choose between Fun, Important and Lasting: they redeem rewards in all three.
- Behind the mobile platform, a big data analytics platform provides measures on what girls are engaging with, what they like and the impact the platform has had on their development. Data is never sold, shared with third parties or used for any marketing purposes. The platform is deployed through partner schools, non profits and government entities, with recognition programs for the most engaged entity. For example, school prizes for teachers to attend the 2020 Nobel Prize Teacher Summit in Washington DC. It is supported by a global ecosystem of organisations working together to create extraordinary cultural change.
There are three primary objectives:
- Ignite a genuine passion for STEM in girls, including developing STEM skills and helping girls understand that STEM provides a means and a route to success, and equality in life.
- Have a positive impact on the transferable, 21st century skills of girls – skills that will be valuable no matter which career choices are made. STEM engagement is an excellent mechanism to develop these skills.
- Convene a powerful and scalable public-private partnership that works together to deliver sustainable impact on communities around the world.
All beneficiaries have the opportunity to join a virtual and globally-connected movement for social good: Girls get to learn, develop, have fun and earn incredible rewards, schools get access to another route to supplement their curriculum and contribute towards their educational outcomes, caregivers have a route to engage in their child’s learning, and develop a deeper, fact-based awareness of how STEM can create opportunities for their girls, content providers (collaborators in the development of activities, such as Universities) have an extended outreach opportunity to engage a larger and more diverse community, non-profits receive financial donations based on how girls donate their points and greater awareness of what they do. Private organisations (EY and Tribal Planet) get to fulfil their Corporate Responsibility mission towards making the future equal, and develop a pipeline of future women leaders who are attracted to a future career with us. Governments benefit from additional learning and developmental opportunities for their citizens, funded and delivered by the private sector.
We plan to scale the platform and partner ecosystem to new countries (developed and developing) in other languages. The vision is to make the platform available to 250,000 girls around the world by 2022, and to also incorporate the ‘Arts’.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Using the device to encourage people to engage beyond the device: EY STEM Tribe encourages users to actively engage with their ecosystem to enable social integration.
Technology for social good: EY STEM Tribe shifts the power back in the hands of young people by using technology as a positive force for good.
Trust at the heart: Data gathering by the platform is utilized only to measure social impact without compromising personal data and identity.
Gamification, game theory and behavioural economics: The platform is designed to incentivize users through a fun experience to engage and act based on what they like and what they care about.
Diverse and global public-private partnership: The trust-based ecosystem has created a powerful partnership activating multiple stakeholders in different geographies - governments, academic institutions, schools, teachers, parents, non-profits and corporations – working towards a common goal: Future is Equal.
What is the current status of your innovation?
Current status of EY STEM Tribe
Phase 1 is underway, completing at the end of March 2020. 7000 girls aged 13-18, across 50+ schools in 3 major cities and 2 countries are participating. 30+ partner organizations form the ecosystem. The Government of Delhi is engaged and supporting girl participation. More than 20,000 learning steps have been completed by girls to date. The most popular rewards have been Virtual Reality Headsets, Work Experiences with EY, donations to charities (Girls who Code and AI for Good).
What is happening across the EY STEM Tribe program right now
The platform is operational and impact is being measured on a monthly basis, sharing key (anonymised) insights with ecosystem partners. In parallel, EY and Tribal Planet are finalizing the plans for scaling EY STEM Tribe beyond March 2020 to more girls across geographies with more content and ecosystem partners across the public, private and non-profit sectors.
Collaborations & Partnerships
EY (Innovation sponsor & leader): Global scale and relationships to engage partners, governments and schools and drive the deployment.
Tribal Planet (Platform operator): Experience in content gamification and behavioural rewards.
Government of Delhi (Public Sector Partner): Credibility as advocate across schools and expertise on policy and learning outcomes.
Schools (Operational Girl Access): Direct access to girls to advocate adoption.
Academic institutions (Content Provider): Expertise in STEM.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Primary beneficiaries are the participating girls, caregivers/parents, teachers and schools who engaged in fun, gamified STEM learning enabling change in stereotypes.
Secondary beneficiaries: Government, which mobilised resources to drive public policy through partnership with private organisations. Content providers, who received feedback from app users. The non-profit organisations, which benefited through reward point induced monetary donations.
Key stakeholders are EY and Tribal Planet.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The impact measures are STEM impact (Interest, Competence, Value and Commitment), Future Career options awareness, Key transferable skills (Critical Thinking & Problem Solving Proficiency, Communication & Listening Proficiency, Creativity & Systems Thinking Proficiency, Social Skills & Team Work Proficiency, Leadership Proficiency). Activities are curated to assess ‘Before the Experience’ and ‘After the Experience’ measures for each indicator. The full results will not be published until end of March 2020: All indicators to date are positive.
Projections point to:
STEM Impact - Average positive 23% improvement.
Future Career Options Impact - 83% of girls have a better understanding of career options Transferable Skills Impact: Average increase of 18% of girls assessed as ‘high proficiency’.
Challenges and Failures
Parental screen time and trust debate: Some parents are vocal about increased mobile usage. During initial onboarding convincing some schools was challenging since they had strict parent driven screen time policies. Subsequently, a successful campaign was conducted with schools, including awareness workshops with parents to listen, and explain how the platform was NOT a social media platform and how privacy was protected.
Gender (In)Equality: What about the boys? EY STEM Tribe is only for girls. This resulted in our failure to onboard a small number of co-ed schools (less than 10%). For the majority of co-ed schools, principals were re-engaged to explain our vision for girl-only platform and secured majority support.
Demanding school calendars: EY STEM Tribe launched with a series of workshops conducted with girls and their parents, teachers. Scheduling workshops for 50+ schools with different calendars and educational systems was challenging. With successful negotiation the schools prioritized our program.
Conditions for Success
Balancing a global-platform with local-relevance: EY STEM Tribe was delivered by a global team in local markets (Delhi, Atlanta and Seattle). Whilst core objectives, impact targets and the experience must be standard, content must be locally relevant to align with local culture, attitudes and education systems.
Trust and Privacy: A platform designed for young people must have clear policies around protecting the privacy of users and how data is processed and used.
Digital vs physical resource model: Phase 1 required significant resource-intensive interventions in deployment locations to engage early-adopter schools. With lessons learned, a focus for Phase 2 is to reduce manual interventions with schools and move towards more of a self-opt-in, self-service solution for school adoption through smart use of digital assets.
Government Collaboration: An expanded role of government for Phase 2 will be critical as the team seeks to rapidly scale the platform across a much larger number of schools.
Within EY: The program is sponsored by EY’s Global CEO. EY is a global organisation with 270,000+ people in over 150 countries. This network of employees, clients, alliances and vendors will be utilized to scale. Strong interest to scale has already been received from EY leadership and employees in other countries.
State and central government: The Delhi government has indicated a desire to scale EY STEM Tribe for more girls in government schools. Interest has also been received from other Indian states and the central government. Government partnerships outside of India are currently being explored for deployment in the next phase.
Other organisations: The innovative ecosystem-approach allows for a plug and play adoption model and there are numerous opportunities to on-board other corporations, non-profits and government entities. EY clients have expressed interest. Through Tribal Planet’s network, there are a number of high profile academic entities and NGOs exploring how to engage.
- Focus on building ‘trust’ for digital platforms that target young people.
- Invest significant time up front in defining a clear set of impact success metrics.
- Get the right balance between a global model that is locally relevant.
- Listen, learn and adapt: The experience and content must be continually refreshed to align with the interests of the user community.
- Invest resources up front to get the program off the ground, recognizing that the early adopter schools need more interventions than later-adopter schools (when the model is proven and fine-tuned).
- Marketing and communications have a key role to play in the success of innovations such as ours that requires activation of an ecosystem.
- Balancing stakeholders' diverse expectations with multiple ecosystem stakeholders is a key pillar of innovation success.
- With a plethora of girl/women-oriented programs, ‘Gender (In) Equality: What about the boys?’ is a statement which is often heard: Be careful in ensuring that girl/women-centric programs do not make the boys/men feel discriminated against.
EY STEM Tribe was nominated for UN Sustainable Development Action Awards in May 2019. Very good feedback was received on the initiative's design from UN SDG core team. UN SDG core team requested the EY team to lead a session with UN delegates at the UN SDG festival in Bonn on ‘Technology for Social Good’. Also, the team gave a talk as the change-makers at the SDG Studio (equivalent of a TED talk at the UN SDG festival).
‘Future of work’ modelled core team: EY STEM Tribe core team involved in the design, development and roll out comprises of EY and Tribal Planet team members from 6+ nationalities spread across 10+ different time zones. Remote working, that will soon become a norm, was the base of our working model.
- Identifying or Discovering Problems or Opportunities - learning where and how an innovative response is needed
- Generating Ideas or Designing Solutions - finding and filtering ideas to respond to the problem or opportunity
- Implementation - making the innovation happen
- Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
15 January 2021