By: Naomi Leak   |   Posted: October 06, 2022

Across the world, girls who participate in science, technology, engineering and math can face criticism and difficulty based on stereotypes. But these girls are defying those stereotypes and using their talents to improve lives and inspire those around them.

Girls Who Are Defying Gender Stereotypes Through STEM

Across the world, girls who participate in science, technology, engineering and math can face criticism and difficulty based on stereotypes. But these girls are defying those stereotypes and using their talents to improve lives and inspire those around them.

Written by Naomi Leak
Reporting and Photos by Vera Aurima, Gabriella Samaty, Juana Ordonez Martinez
Gimena and her awards

On Oct. 11, the United Nations observes International Day of the Girl Child. It’s a day for us to dream of and work toward a world where girls are free from gender-based violence, harmful practices, HIV and AIDS, and limited opportunities based on their gender.

This International Day of the Girl Child, we’re celebrating all of the intelligent, talented and innovative girls in our programs. To honor them, we want to share three stories of girls who are defying stereotypes, serving their communities and building better futures through their hard work and skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Read on to see how no challenges or stereotypes are holding these ladies back.


It’s midday and 22-year-old Winner is repairing a car as part of her internship. In front of her garage, a man, unable to walk, struggles under the hot sun as his tricycle gets stuck in the sandy road. Sweating and gathering all his strength to pedal with his hands, the man catches Winner’s attention and empathy.

When Winner opted for mechanical engineering in high school, she was belittled and bullied by male classmates and even some teachers. They told her mechanical engineering was for men, but she was not deterred. With support from her Compassion center and encouragement from her parents, she made it to university and was always top of her class.

Winner works on the tricycle

In addition to being passionate about engineering, Winner has always wanted to serve her community. Seeing a man with a disability on his tricycle, braving sand and stones on the road, gave her an idea.

“The common tricycle used by disabled persons in Togo is mechanical and requires a lot of physical effort to make the wheels turn,” Winner says. “It is laborious, and the rider is constantly exposed to the sun.” Yet most people with disabilities can’t afford cars or motorcycles adapted to their physical conditions.

Combining her passions, Winner decided to use mechanical engineering and solar energy to create a faster and more usable tricycle.

Winner made this project her thesis. She wanted the tricycle to be comfortable, affordable and environmentally friendly. She selected a lightweight electric engine that runs on solar energy. The rider only has to press the start button and the tricycle is ready to move. The accelerator and the break are level with the handlebars, and the tricycle’s solar panel protects the rider from the sun’s rays.

Winner stands next to her tricycle

Winner made sure the tricycle could support up to 200 pounds so that the rider can have an income generating activity. “Persons with disabilities can easily sell fruits, vegetables, juice or yogurt, which they can easily carry on the back of their tricycle. I wanted it to be a productive tricycle, which can help them make money so they can have a return on investment,” says Winner.

After intensive research, work and financial investment, in November 2021 Winner impressed the judges with her thesis presentation. “It was a great joy I cannot describe. Seeing my professors, my advisor, who I thank for his supervision, the heads of departments and other professors at the university who congratulated me — I was proud I made it!”

Winner intends to keep improving the tricycle, and she’s also working on a start-up project to invent more life-changing devices.

Winner says, “Without the support of the center, this prototype would have not seen the light of the day. Without the good values they have instilled in me, I would have not been strong and daring enough to think about innovation.”


Meysella and Jeny laugh together

Meysella (left) and Jeny (right) laugh together.


Meysella, 14, and Jeny, 13, were both 5 years old when they were registered in the child development center of a rural Indonesian village about 62 miles from a large city. This can seem a lifetime away for children who lack the modern city’s access to jobs, technology and educational opportunities.

Being in the Compassion program gave Meysella and Jeny many opportunities to learn and grow, including the opportunity to learn computer skills. They started with the basics, but before long, they progressed to coding. After graduating from their program’s computer course, they were inspired to create an app!

Jemmy, center director, and Kristin, a mentor, teach a coding class

Jemmy, center director, and Kristin, a mentor, teach a coding class.


Fueled by class materials and YouTube tutorials, the students agreed to make a basic attendance app for tutors. After a month, it was ready to be used, and after several more it was ready to launch on the Google Play Store. And Meysella and Jeny now have the opportunity to use more sophisticated computers. The center received a grant from Compassion’s Critical Intervention Fund to build a computer lab with 11 new computers.

Meysella beams with pride. “What I have done proves that even though I live in a village and don’t have a personal computer, I can still learn to create a simple program. Compassion helps me think outside the box and motivates me to keep going,” she says.

“If I had never joined the Compassion program, I might never have dreamed of learning about coding,” says Jeny. “Here, I learned something I had never thought of before. I also learned about the meaning of family, teamwork and respect for one another.”

Meysella and Jeny


Fourteen-year-old Gimena comes from a rural community in Honduras with high illiteracy rates. Most registered teenagers in this area come from families so focused on survival that education is not a priority.

But ever since she was a little girl, Gimena excelled when it came to solving math problems, even as the grade difficulty grew. And she’s not just good at it — she loves it.

But how did Gimena find her passion for math?

“When I was a preschooler, my Compassion tutor used to challenge us to quickly solve math problems and rewarded the winner with a special prize,” said Gimena. “Such activity not only triggered my competitive side, but over the years I became good at math.”

Since Gimena was registered in the Compassion program, she has been encouraged in her talent and given school supplies, backpacks, uniforms, shoes and other school equipment to carry on with her education.

“Gimena learned in the Compassion center to pursue and achieve further academic goals,” says Maria, the center’s director. “Gimena is very competitive, and she’s involved in every race and activity developed in our center. We’re happy to see her thriving and getting ahead with her education.”

At age 14, Gimena is in eighth grade and has won local and national math championships. She has been awarded silver and gold medals in competitions and has also appeared on local radio and television shows to speak on the importance of education and to encourage other young people to work hard on their math educations. According to Gimena, it has been a privilege and honor to represent her community and be a role model for other kids her age.

Gimena with her awards

In a couple of years, Gimena will finish high school, and she dreams of attending university to pursue a math degree. “I’m grateful for the Compassion center’s support and investment in my education,” said Gimena. “I dedicate my math victories and academic achievements to my family, my tutors and to all those children who, despite their limitations, do not quit but follow through.”

Want to pave the way for a girl in poverty to have a powerful, influential future? If you’d like to celebrate International Day of the Girl Child in this way, consider giving any amount toward a Help a Girl at Risk Bundle in our Gift Catalog.