Sergey Tokarev on STEM is FEM achievements: 2 years, 13 modules, 1000-member community, and more


STEM is FEM is a charity initiative founded two years ago with the goal to popularize STEM education among Ukrainian high school girls. The initiative unites different activities, such as educational modules on technical topics, webinars, and exhibitions. One of the co-founders of STEM is FEM is Sergey Tokarev, investor of the technology company Roosh. He describes the impact of the initiative on the participants and outlines prospects for development.

The project became famous in Ukraine with educational two-day modules on different topics, such as bioengineering, IT, 3D modelling and printing, pharmaceuticals, etc. To participate, girls have to pass a competitive examination. During the weekend, they attend motivational lectures and industry workshops by experienced speakers, and work on creative projects.

Sergey Tokarev explains that the main feature of the project is the motivational part: “We invite successful women from different spheres (representatives of business, Ukrainian ministries, representatives of international organizations, and foreign diplomats) who inspire girls to not be afraid to follow the chosen technical career.”

Since the beginning of the initiative, girls have learned more about architecture and finance, robotics, and metallurgy. Thirteen modules dedicated to different topics and professions have already been held during the last two years. The participants have developed trending project ideas, such as robotic models to combat the pandemic at hospitals and public places, 3D models of bicycle stations that comply with ecological consideration, and others.

Reviewing the ideas, Sergey Tokarev highlights two of them that are the most attractive: “The first belongs to Veronica Podlesnova who proposed using modified peptides⁠—defensins⁠—for treating viral diseases. The second was Maria Kalinichenko. The girl came up with the idea of creating a robot that used artificial intelligence to help the Paralympians in training.”

There are a lot of other activities that girls from the STEM is FEM community may attend. They discuss science fiction with scientists and experts at the literature club litMINT, discover new information about volunteering opportunities, cybersecurity, international educational programs at workshops with speakers who are representatives from international organizations such as UNICEF and UNDP. And that is just a tiny bit of educational events they are involved in.

Describing the scope of the project, Sergey Tokarev explains that ‘STEM is FEM has long turned into a powerful community with several hundred girls communicating and helping each other outside of common activities.”

There is a subsidiary project SHE is SCIENCE implemented by STEM is FEM with the support of international organizations UNICEF and UN Women in Ukraine. This is an educational exhibition of 12 portraits of Ukrainian female scientists created by modern illustrators (Sergei Maidukov, Anna Ivanenko, Olya Dekhtyareva, and Anna Sarvira).

At the beginning of this initiative, there was an all-Ukrainian competition for the best essay among girls aged 14 to 21. The authors had to write about the professional achievements of the scientists and their impact on the problem of gender balance. According to the project coordinators, they received 561 applications.

The portraits of the scientists were presented on June 10. The First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska and a number of high-ranking foreign diplomats attended the open ceremony. Since then, the portraits have been exhibited in different Ukrainian cities, for instance, in Zaporizhzhia, Lviv, Poltava, and other cities. Sergey Tokarev shares more details about it: ‘The exhibition has already been outside Ukraine. It was shown in Berlin as part of the networking conference Days of Ukraine in Berlin and Brandenburg.”