Women’s roles in science, technology, engineering and mathematics have been making headlines lately, and it isn’t all bad news. From the focus on women’s roles in the tech sector at the White House’s recent United States of Women Summit to more and more groups focused on driving greater participation of women in STEM, it’s exciting to see all the work being done to support women in these fields. Despite these moves in the right direction, we’re still a long way from closing the gender gap in STEM. At some leading tech companies, only 10 percent of women occupy tech jobs. Furthermore, a recent study found that only 11.2% of bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering were awarded to minority women. The numbers are clear – there’s still work to be done.

Initiate a Love of STEM 

First things first. When it comes to STEM education, it’s important to start early. Pages upon pages have been devoted to the barriers to STEM education in the United States. Nine out of 10 schools don’t offer computer programming, and only 37 percent of students enjoy their science class. These issues need to be addressed, but there are also resources for parents interested in inspiring their daughters to explore STEM. In fact, 68 percent of teen girls interested in STEM say their fathers played a key role in encouraging them. From building things with your daughter to encouraging her to play with toys that will spark her interest in science and engineering, parents are on the front lines when it comes to early STEM education.

Create Workplace Opportunities

Despite the fact that research shows tech companies excel with women leaders, a recent survey found that at the top U.S. tech companies only 18 percent of women hold leadership positions. Something has to change – it’s time for men to get serious about encouraging equality in tech. Men in STEM industries can start by helping women network, assisting women in their job searches by sharing contacts and, most importantly, speaking up on behalf of women in the workplace.

Convene as Leaders

Finally, we need to take a step back and think about broader systematic issues barring women’s entry into STEM education and professions. At the White House’s recent United States of Women Summit, Mary Wilson Arrasmith, a high school instructional strategist coordinating technical education, commented, “Create an army of folks around you–counselors, teachers–celebrate those different activities and events. It’s important your leadership be fully engaged in the message of equity.” Meetings like this, which bring together leaders in education, business and government, are a critical piece of the puzzle as we all work together to bridge the gender gap in STEM.



At Teza Technologies, Misha Malyshev and employees have been working closely with organizations that are working to inspire girls and boys alike to develop an interest in STEM from an early age. Through support of organizations such as buildOn, Adler Planetarium and After-School All-Stars, and our involvement with key programs such as Girls do Hack, the Noble Stem Expo, Hour of Code and Junior Research Scientists, we’re hoping to inspire the next generation of engineers and coders.


A Look at Why Women in STEM are Switching Careers

The science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields have historically been dominated by men. Although there are increased numbers of women working in STEM, there continues to be a lack of female representation. It was reported earlier this year that women comprise of just 28 percent of employed science and engineering professionals.

Why Women Leave STEM

For the women that go on to pursue careers in STEM, more than half leave them within a decade, which is close to twice the frequency of men in those fields. There have been many different reasons that have been introduced in regards to this occurrence, one being a difference in values between men and women. Whereas men focus more on short-term items such as cost reduction, hierarchy, and resource constraints, women value accountability, balance, continuous improvement, coaching/mentoring and empowerment. Although men also find bureaucracy and hierarchy to impede their achievement, they are more likely to endure the dissatisfaction and continue working. Women, on the other hand, tend to leave for another career when they encounter unnecessary obstacles in their work.

Another reason associated with women leaving STEM jobs is sexual harassment. This is more prevalent in Silicon Valley, where 60% of women have reported being the target of unwanted sexual advances from a superior and 90% have witnessed sexist behavior at company offsites and/or industry conferences. More statistics from the report can be found here.

Additionally, there is the perception that women do not have the traits needed to succeed in science. In a study done by Wellesley College, women were viewed as having communal characteristics such as caring and unselfish, whereas men were associated with agentic characteristics including competitiveness and courageousness. The study revealed that people tend to associate scientists with agentic characteristics and that women appear to be incompatible with science. These cultural stereotypes are creating barriers for the women of today and future generations of women that aspire to be engineers or scientists.

Shaping the Future of Girls in STEM

In recent years, there has been a push for not only increased STEM programs in schools, but also programs tailored to girls to peak their interest and open their eyes to new opportunities. Misha Malyshev and employees from his company, Teza Technologies, support many organizations including buildOn, Adler Planetarium, After-School All-Stars and After School Matters that provide programs that inspire young children to dream of being future engineers or coders. Such programs include Girls Do Hack, Hack Day, Noble STEM Expo, Hour of Code, STEM CampUs, and Junior Research Scientists. Throughout the programs, girls can gain confidence by supporting each other, build a network of peers and find mentors/role models. It’s through these and similar programs where they hopefully begin to break through barriers – where their thoughts are heard, their actions are admired and they are no longer looked upon as inferior.

The push for STEM education in elementary school and earlier

Recent news shows that middle and high schools are increasing spending on their STEM programs to keep up with the national demand for more scientists and engineers. However, many educators at the lower level are trying to get students interested much earlier.

Last month, President Obama held a meeting with public- and private-sector groups in regards to STEM education, which could start as early as pre-school. Groups included NASA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Sesame Workshop, the Girl Scouts and the Fred Rogers Company. The goal of the “early active STEM learning” initiative is to get kids interested in science, technology, engineering and math as young as possible and to carry that interest throughout middle and high school in hopes of pursuing a career in STEM.

A recent report showed that for the percentage of students who pursue a college major in STEM (16% for math in 2015), only about half work in a related career. At the same time, the projected growth for STEM careers from 2010-2020 remains higher than the average of all occupations. With baby boomers soon retiring, the need for STEM professionals will outweigh the number of people able to fill those positions. Additionally, the United States is lagging behind on an international scale, ranking 29th in math and 22nd in science among industrialized nations.


The projected growth in STEM jobs is higher than that of all occupations

Currently, the U.S. Department of Education is working towards a cohesive national strategy for STEM, which includes:

  • improving STEM instruction in preschool through 12th grade
  • increasing and sustaining public and youth engagement with STEM
  • improving the STEM experience for undergraduate students
  • better serving groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields
  • designing graduate education for tomorrow’s STEM workforce.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Science (IES) is also funding research that will examine how early elementary school science teaching can improve outcomes for children from minority and low-income backgrounds.

On a local level, Teza Technologies and CEO Misha Malyshev are active supporters of nonprofits that work with elementary and middle school children outside of the classroom in urban cities to provide academic support and resources. Many Teza employees volunteer their time at After-School All-Stars, After School Matters, buildOn and Adler Planetarium, where they partner with children to teach them about STEM through different educational programs.

Young Achievers of Tomorrow Month

If Teza Technologies employees could connect a monthly observance to the company’s philanthropic mission, it would most closely resemble Young Achievers of Tomorrow Month. This observance is being highlighted throughout the month of May.

Teza Technologies employees and CEO Misha Malyshev are involved in organizations such as After-School All-Stars, buildOn, After School Matters and the Adler Planetarium. Employees volunteer their time as mentors, partnering with at-risk youth to establish positive relationships and share their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math. Misha serves on buildOn’s global leadership council and After School Matters’ advisory board.

These organizations focus on providing students with additional educational opportunities inside and outside of the classroom, typically catering to children living in urban areas. Past programs Teza Technologies employees have volunteered in include Girls Do Hack, Junior Research Scientists, CampUS and Civic Hack Day. For some students, their first introduction to STEM programs is through involvement with these organizations. Having new opportunities opens their eyes to a future they may not have felt was possible or even worth considering beforehand.

The organizations are not only special for their programs, but for the people involved. Studies show that children, especially those living in low socioeconomic status, are highly influenced by their surroundings and tend to become more like the peers with whom they associate. This is why volunteers that spend time mentoring students can make such an impact in their life. Research shows that youth who are involved in mentorship programs are more likely to graduate high school, have healthier relationships and lifestyle choices, enroll in college, have a higher self-esteem and are less likely to turn to drugs and alcohol.

According to the National Mentoring Partnership, there was an estimated 4.5 million young people in a structured mentoring relationship in 2014 in comparison to the estimated 300,000 from the early 1990s. Through a variety of programs, organizations such as After-School All-Stars, buildOn, After School Matters and the Adler Planetarium are inspiring students to become young achievers of tomorrow with the help from role models.

buildOn team members talk to local women as part of their female leadership development initative

Misha Malyshev Serves on Leadership Body of buildOn, an Organization Putting Gender Parity at the Center of Their Mission

Creating equal opportunity for women is a cause important to Misha Malyshev, both within his work as CEO of Teza Technologies and within his philanthropic involvement around the world. The month of March is a significant time to celebrate the cause and highlight the need for more action to end gender inequality. March is National Women’s History Month, dedicated to highlighting American women’s contributions to history and continued achievements in politics, business, the arts, culture and other areas of modern society. International Women’s Day also falls during the month, on March 8th. The holiday, observed by the United Nations and the global community, similarly celebrates women’s social, cultural and economic achievements and is a call to action for gender parity, women’s rights and an end to gender-based violence and inequality worldwide.

A major focus of Dr. Malyshev’s philanthropic involvement is working with organizations that create educational and economic opportunities for women and girls. In the U.S., Misha Malyshev is a regular sponsor for Girls Do Hack, an annual event that teaches girls about STEM careers. He also serves on the global leadership council for buildOn, a nonprofit organization that works to empower youth in urban areas in the U.S. and constructs schools in some of the poorest areas in the world. BuildOn also serves as an example of an organization that has prioritized gender parity within their core mission.

Nearly a quarter of young women in developing nations have not completed primary school, and two-thirds of illiterate adults in the world are women. Educating and empowering women and girls has become a strategic priority within all of buildOn’s work across the globe. For every school that is constructed, the buildOn team works with the support of community members and leaders. The local community also agrees to educate an equal number of girls and boys in each buildOn school. BuildOn provides Adult Literacy Classes to teach adults basic literacy and math skills, and more than three quarters of students in these classes are women. These classes help women achieve greater independence, enhance their earning potential and improve opportunities for their children and families.

A woman attends a buildOn Adult Literacy class in Nepal

BuildOn’s adult literacy classes teach basic math and literacy skills. Three-quarters of the classes’ students are women.

More recently, buildOn partnered with In A Perfect World to launch several new programs aimed specifically at elevating the status of women worldwide. With their #StrongerTogether campaign, they are working to break the cycle of poverty and further empower women in developing areas.  Part of this initiative is a newly-launched apprenticeship program in which women are given the opportunity to shadow workers during buildOn school-building projects and learn construction skills. Women who go through the program will also have the opportunity to be hired as a member of the buildOn skilled labor team. The organization is also helping develop female leaders to serve in their local communities as part of buildOn’s leadership team. So far, there are three female Country Directors who work as ambassadors between communities in their home country and buildOn’s global team.

Each year, the UN designates a campaign theme for International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”, calling for gender parity by 2030. Spreading awareness using the hashtag #PledgeForParity, the campaign calls for equal inclusion of men and women in leadership and equal opportunity in government, business, education and all areas of life. Organizations like buildOn, their leadership body and global team, are carrying this mission into their day to day work, both during and beyond International Women’s Day.

Mellody Hobson, Ann Lurie, Misha Malyshev: Chicago Business Leaders Using Their Net Worth to Support Charitable Causes

It’s not uncommon for businesses to give to philanthropic causes, either through corporate sponsorship, company-led fundraising or volunteer service. Many business leaders take this philanthropy beyond the corporate level and choose to donate their time and personal wealth to charitable organizations and causes. The Giving Pledge is a recent and highly visible example of philanthropy from business leaders announced by billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010. The campaign challenges the world’s wealthiest individuals to pledge at least half of their net worth to charity. The Pledge has since grown and now includes more than 130 “pledgers”, including prominent billionaires like Richard Branson, Sara Blakely and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. In addition to those who have joined the Giving Pledge, many other business leaders and entrepreneurs are involved in philanthropic efforts, both domestically and abroad. Here’s a look at three Chicago business leaders who give their net worth to local, national and international causes:

Misha Malyshev

Misha Malyshev serves on the global leadership council for buildOn, an international nonprofit organization that builds schools in developing nations and organizes after school programs within the U.S. BuildOn’s mission is the break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy through service learning programs in the U.S. and in some of the world’s poorest nations. In 2014, Misha Malyshev and his wife, Oksana Malyshev, donated $150,000 to buildOn to help complete the building of five schools in Africa and Central America. The five schools, located in Malawi and Nicaragua, now provide learning centers for 2,100 children, at least half of which are female students. Misha Malyshev has also used his net worth to help educational organizations domestically. In addition to serving as CEO of Teza Technologies, Dr. Malyshev also serves on the leadership council for After School All Stars and Adler Planetarium in Chicago, and is a regular sponsor of educational programs for K-12 students.


buildOn volunteer helps build a school in Nepal. Philanthropists like Dr. Misha Malyshev use their net worth to support organizations like buildOn in the U.S. and internationally.

Mellody Hobson

Mellody Hobson, President of Aerial Investments and Chair of the Board of Directors for Dreamworks Animation, is a champion of equal opportunity and education in Chicago. She recently pledged $25 million to After School Matters, a nonprofit organization that offers after school and summer programs for high school students in Chicago. The organization places teens in “apprenticeships” that allow them to explore careers in tech, science sports, the arts and more. In addition to serving on the organization’s board, Ms. Hobson serves on the leadership body of educational organizations in Chicago including the Chicago Public Education Fund and the Chicago Public Library.

Ann Lurie

Ann Lurie is President of the Ann & Robert Lurie Foundation and Founder of Africa Infectious Disease Village Clinics. As President of the Foundation, Ms. Lurie provides grants for educational programs, social services and art and health organizations. She began her philanthropic work when she founded and worked in an infectious disease clinic in Kenya. Over the years, she has invested more than $30 million in these health centers and is passionate about transforming healthcare in developing areas in Africa. In the U.S., Ms. Lurie serves on the National Institutes of Health board, and  is well known for her donation to Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

buildOn Opens 700th School

buildOn recently celebrated the opening of its 700th school.

“The completion of this school is an important milestone for the buildOn Movement. Jamunipur’s school is buildOn’s 700th school. Its students are joining more than 92,000 children, parents and grandparents around the world who are currently learning in buildOn schools.”

Read more:

Misha Malyshev Funds Additional Projects in Haiti and Malawi with buildOn

Misha Malyshev has funded additional projects for buildOn, which will result in an additional school in Malawi and adult literacy classes in Haiti.

Malyshev has previously donated to buildOn, which helped build five schools in Malawi and Nicaragua. After the completion of the schools, buildOn teams visited Teza to present the finished projects to Malyshev and Teza staff. Malyshev said:

“It has been deeply inspiring to hear from the buildOn students who built these schools, and about the positive influence those experiences have had on their perspectives of their own educational opportunities here in the U.S.”

He added:

“We believe in buildOn’s mission and we are thrilled to sponsor additional projects in Haiti and Malawi.”

To read more about the projects and buildOn, read the press release:

Misha Malyshev, CEO of Teza Technologies, Funds Additional Projects in Haiti and Malawi with buildOn

Students from buildOn Visit and Inspire Teza Employees

Last year, Teza Technologies donated $150,000 to buildOn for the construction of five new schools in Nicaragua and Malawi. The construction of these Teza-funded schools took 6,741 volunteer work days, and resulted in 2,111 students attending classes. This year, Misha Malyshev and his wife Oksana Malysheva will personally sponsor the construction of an additional school in a rural community in need. In order to determine where this next school will be built, students who have previously participated in the construction of buildOn schools in Malawi and Haiti recently visited Teza’s offices to give a presentation on their life-changing experiences, and to encourage the allocation of the gift to one of those countries.

In two teams of three, the students provided impressive power point presentations, full of photos from the builds and statistics on the state of education and education related topics (such as adult literacy) in their respective countries. Oksana and a group of Teza employees attended, and asked questions about the projects and how the experience has changed the students’ perspectives on their lives and educational opportunities here in the United States. Afterwards, the students presented Teza with framed photos of all of the schools that Teza (and the Malyshevs personally) have sponsored.

While Oksana and the Teza meeting attendees deliberated over which country was most in need of a new school, the students had lunch with other Teza employees, who told them about their jobs and how they ended up in a STEM field. Misha joined as well, sharing his own story and reiterating to the students how important it is to value your own education as well as work to create educational opportunities for others.

The day culminated in an announcement that, while each presentation was extremely inspiring, the Malyshevs had decided to allocate their gift to Team Malawi. However, given the positive impression made by Team Haiti’s hard work and willingness to share their experiences, the Malyshevs also committed to sponsoring adult literacy classes in that country.