Walt Disney Co. will help fund a program to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.
The Burbank entertainment and media giant will pay for 15,000 girls in California to receive a starter pack from littleBits, a New York education tech startup. The $300 pack includes a littleBits base inventor or electronic music inventor kit and a one-year subscription to its online learning community, JAM.com.
Additionally, University of California – Davis and the state chapter of Million Women Mentors will pair the girls with mentors to allow them to experience a deeper level of engagement.
Disney Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said the company was proud to support the Snap the Gap effort to help girls develop skills and confidence they need to succeed.
“With (littleBits Founder Ayah Bdeir’s) passion and her company’s innovative approach to education through play, we believe littleBits is uniquely positioned to help close the gender gap in STEM,” McCarthy said in a statement.
The Snap the Gap program specifically targets 10-year-old girls because studies have shown that their interest and participation in STEM courses declines over time starting in the fourth grade.
“Over the past decade, billions of dollars have been spent but the rate of women in STEM careers still hasn't changed,” Bdeir said in a statement. “Not only do we need to start earlier, but we have to give girls more support throughout their journey.”
Shares in Disney (DIS) closed Tuesday down 55 cents, or less than a percent, to $111.96 on the New York Stock Exchange.