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Girlboss inspires future female leaders

Posted at 11:44am Tuesday 04 Jun, 2019

A 20-year-old entrepreneur who has met the Queen, flown with NASA and spoken at the UN in New York made a visit to girls at Rodney and Mahurangi colleges last week.

Orewa's Alexia Hilbertidou founded her company, Girlboss, at age 16 to provide motivational workshops to encourage young Kiwi women to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers and take on leadership roles.

“I want young women to be unapologetically ambitious, and I tell them not to be afraid to work harder than everyone else. If you want opportunities that not many people get, you have to make choices not many people would,” Alexia says.

As part of the workshop, Year 12 and 13 girls were asked to write their dream career on a piece of paper. They were then asked to write what career they expected to pursue on the other side.

“What we saw is that there is a disconnect. Half the girls in these groups didn't believe they were capable of that dream career.

“For example, one girl wanted to be an architectural engineer, but wrote that she would probably work as a waitress, and that was because her aunty runs a café.

“It highlights the importance of power role models. If what they think they see in the mirror is so far from their ideal career, that is a real barrier.”

The girls were then asked to turn to the person next to them and say: “I believe you can do this.”

“Some got quite emotional because it was the first time they had shared what their dreams were and had someone support that idea,” Alexia says.

Alexia says that empowering young women is particularly important right now, because automation is set to reduce the amount of jobs available, and this is expected to affect women more than men.

“At a recent economic forum in Malaga, I learned that automation will make obsolete five jobs for women for every job it creates. For men, it is only three.”

Alexia is currently on a tour of 40 schools throughout New Zealand, funded by the Ministry of Education.

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