Regina's parents' business cultivating cucumbers in Russia had not enjoyed much success since they founded it three years earlier. That started to shift however after Regina took part in a technology education program and shared what she learned with her family.
At 15, the girl became instrumental in helping her parents further develop their business. Regina credits Intel Learn - an innovative technology education initiative recently assessed by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) - with equipping her with skills to help her family better manage and grow their business.
"I can execute cost estimates such as income and expenses, salary and cultivable area," Regina said, adding that the Intel Learn also familiarized her and fellow students with economics. "This program can also influence future economic growth of our country."
Intel tapped ICRW earlier this year to assess the impact of Intel Learn, with a particular focus on girls and young women in low-income settings. Renee Wittemyer, director of social impact for Intel's Corporate Affairs Group, said ICRW was uniquely positioned to carry out the assessment, "given its foundation of research on girls and women as well as its work in the space of technologies and innovation."
Ultimately, ICRW found Intel Learn to be a valuable program that equips girls - who make up half of the participants - with essential digital literacy, collaboration and problem-solving skills needed to compete in a 21st century global economy. Intel will use the findings to inform its ongoing strategy and focus on girls and education, Wittemyer said.
"The strategies Intel Learn uses are key not only to recruiting and retaining girls in the program, but also to empowering them," said Allison Glinski, an ICRW gender and development specialist who co-authored the report. "Girls leave this program confident, and with an ability to make thoughtful decisions as well as act on them. These are all skills that can help open up new economic opportunities for them in the future."
With an increasing number of corporations investing in girls' education in underserved communities worldwide, Glinski added that elements of Intel Learn's approach can serve as a guide for business leaders eager to make a difference in girls' lives, particularly through technology.
Established in 2003, Intel Learn helps underserved youth ages eight to 25 develop digital literacy, critical thinking and collaboration skills. To date, it has trained more than 1.75 million youth, about 875,000 of whom are girls and young women. The program takes place in 16 countries.
For its assessment, ICRW reviewed program documents and evaluations and interviewed country managers from 10 of the Intel Learn country programs. Experts applied ICRW's framework for measuring women's economic empowerment to Intel Learn's approach to teaching technology education.
Fundamental to the program's approach is to create an environment that increases students' access to technology and to make technology relevant to their lives. ICRW determined that Intel Learn's ability to do this, as well as to ensure girls' participation, give them a voice in the classroom and cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurialism, were key factors in the program's impact on girls. "These are important lessons on how to enrich the lives of girls and women through technology education that goes beyond teaching basic computer skills," Glinski said.
Indeed, according to Hagit Yafee, an Intel Learn country manager from Israel, girls develop "a new sense of agency" after participating in the program. Instead of just staying at home, getting married and having children, they now have dreams to get an education, do other things," Yafee said. "It is now about what they want, not what society expects of them."
Read the report: The Intel Learn Program Through a Gender Lens