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How IDEA Lab Kids’ Franchisees Are Recognizing International Women in Engineering Day

These two female leaders share why it’s important for young children to celebrate women in the male-dominated STEAM disciplines.

By Sarah Brown1851 Franchise Copy Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 1:13PM 06/23/21

Anna Atencio, owner of IDEA Lab Kids Calgary, and Tinu Arowojolu, owner of IDEA Lab Kids Howard County, Maryland both share a passion for teaching children STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) in a fun, creative way with IDEA Lab Kids, a 25-unit education franchise leader in the growing STEAM education space. And as two of the brand’s strongest female franchisees, they also recognize how important it is to foster a love for STEAM subjects in young girls and empower them to pursue a career in disciplines that currently has a major gender gap.

In honor of International Women in Engineering Day, Atencio and Arowojolu shared why it’s important to recognize women in the STEAM disciplines and how IDEA Lab Kids strives to create opportunities for women in the STEAM disciplines with its hands-on, fun-filled programs.

Why These Female Franchisees Chose IDEA Lab Kids

Born in Colombia and raised in Venezuela, Atencio obtained a master’s degree in engineering and moved to Mexico to pursue her career before later exploring opportunities that would give her more flexibility. As an engineer and a mother of two, she wanted to find a business opportunity that encourages children to explore the STEM field.

IDEA Lab Kids was the perfect fit. “I liked IDEA Lab Kids because it was the first time I had seen the arts in a STEM program,” she said. “My husband and I took our kids to one of the classes, visited one of the centers and the concept really resonated with us. As I watched my kids engage with the class, I thought, ‘Wow, they are learning how to think like an engineer.’”

With a background in information technology and teaching, Arowojolu appreciated that IDEA Lab Kids prioritizes forward-thinking curriculums in its programs.

“I specifically looked into franchises in the IT and education industries,” she said. “I loved how IDEA Lab Kids brings STEAM into a fun environment so children can build on their interests in a fun way.”

Why They Believe Women in the STEAM Disciplines Should Be Recognized

The STEM industry is undoubtedly male-dominated. According to the United States Census Bureau, only 27% of STEM workers are female.

Atencio personally experienced this gap during her time as an engineer. “In my country, when I started working 20 years ago, many of my peers were women. It was very balanced,” she said. “But it was a shock when I went to Mexico. It was very male-dominated there. They usually asked me, ‘Are you a secretary?’ Because of this, women tend to lack confidence in their abilities.”

Atencio advises women in the STEAM disciplines to embrace their roles as leaders. She believes they have an opportunity to illustrate their dedication if they just believe in themselves. “Women have very critical minds,” she said. “We are passionate about what we do, and that shouldn’t go unnoticed.”

Arowojolu believes all industries should strive for gender equality. “I don’t think any career should be male- or female-dominated,” she said. “And kids need to be able to identify with women in STEAM.”

How IDEA Lab Kids Inspires Young Girls to Pursue Careers in STEAM

IDEA Lab Kids strives to help kids explore engineering and other STEAM disciplines through engaging classes, camps and workshops, which also provide opportunities to encourage young girls to take an interest in programs that will set them up for success in the future. 

At Atencio’s location, she tries to instill confidence in her female students from a young age. “At the age of 12 or 13, girls start doubting themselves, and sometimes they feel they can’t do things that boys do,” she said. “In my program, I expose them to creative STEAM activities at an early age, and foster those ideas in them and inspire them.”

Atencio encourages all of her students — especially her young girls — to pursue the subject they enjoy the most. “We encourage them to use their creativity even if they’re not going to pursue a career in STEAM,” she added. “We teach them logic, reasoning and critical thinking. We encourage them to think about things in different ways. But most importantly, we need to make them more confident in themselves when they’re little.”

Arowojolu believes her IDEA Lab Kids female teachers are inspiring role models for her female students. “A lot of our teachers are women. It’s nice to be able to see someone who majored in education teach STEM projects,” she said. “And it’s great for younger girls to see that there’s representation in STEM. It shows young girls that they can do it, too.”

For Atencio, Arowojolu and IDEA Lab Kids as a whole, their goal is to support the future careers of young women and empower them to be strong leaders.

“Women bring different outlooks and innovative thought processes into the STEAM field, and it’s so important to show young girls that they can pursue their dreams and have a voice,” said Devina Bhojwani, IDEA Lab Kids’ co-owner and president. “I’m proud of all of our franchisees for inspiring their students through STEAM-based education.”

The startup costs for an IDEA Lab Kids franchise range from $98,100 to $271,000. The franchise fee is $35,500. To learn more about franchising with IDEA Lab Kids, visit https://www.franchise.idealabkids.com. 

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