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Squared shine
Hundred 2018
How can we empower girls to enter STEM fields?

SHINE for Girls

Marker United States
SHINE for Girls empowers young women to value their own potential and capabilities within Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) by employing a unique curriculum that blends maths with dance.

What is SHINE for Girls?

Kirin Sinha
“At SHINE, we believe in the boundless potential of any girl and strive to provide them with the tools to succeed in an environment dedicated to women helping women. ”

Kirin Sinha, SHINE for Girls Founder

A gender imbalance exists in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Maths anxiety affects more girls than boys, can be seen as early as primary school and impacts girls’ performance in maths tests. In addition, stereotypes and cultural bias can affect girls’ attitude towards STEM, limit their confidence and belief in their abilities and therefore undermine their interest and performance in these subjects. Sadly, women are still underrepresented in STEM subjects at college and in employment, with only 25% of STEM jobs in the US held by women.

SHINE for Girls is an after-school programme founded in the US, combining formal dance training with mathematic instruction to help young girls become confident and capable mathematicians. The programme is based on the idea that every girl is good at maths – they just might not know it yet.

SHINE for Girls follows a multi-level mathematics curriculum, which covers all of the national maths standards for middle school in the US, at a pace that is right for the students. Rather than sitting and listening to instruction, each topic is introduced through kinaesthetic learning activities, designed to teach the concepts in a new way and excite the girls about the material. Movement is used to make more abstract mathematical concepts become tangible through physicality and the kinaesthetic approach also develops muscle memory, helping the students to remember more of what they have learned.

To complement the maths learning and provide added motivation, SHINE for Girls includes formal dance training sessions, in which the girls learn technical dance moves and choreograph a dance to be performed for their teachers and family. This boosts confidence and teamwork skills, while physical activity helps to increase concentration and mental performance in the classroom. Through combining dance and maths, SHINE for Girls hopes to change not only the way girls view maths, but the way they view themselves. Self-confidence, discipline and teamwork developed through performance arts help students to thrive socially and emotionally, and this can translate to success in all fields.

Although many of the girls come to the programme because they are struggling with maths or self-esteem, the sessions do not focus on easy problems or simplified solutions. Rather, girls work in teams to solve tough challenges, showing determination and setting high expectations of themselves to boost morale and self-esteem. Team problem-solving sessions are led by a mentor, who can be a female STEM university student or a school student who has graduated from the SHINE for Girls programme. The mentors help to create a sense of community and encouragement and also provide the girls with inspirational role models in the field of STEM.

SHINE for Girls was founded by Kirin Sinha, an MIT graduate who set up the programme after the experience of regularly being the only female in her university maths classes.

Read more ›
Intended Outcomes
11 - 14
Age Group
Resources Needed
At least one mentor, who could be a school or university student, is needed to run a weekly 2-hour after-school session. SHINE provides the materials, curriculum, training and background checks. The cost of running the programme is $3,000 for the first 10-week programme. If the materials are preserved, the cost of running subsequent 10-week programmes will be around $1,000 each.
HundrED Criteria
The tutoring given through SHINE is very different to a traditional after-school programme. Learners are out in a dance studio and mentors don’t just sit and teach. Kinaesthetic learning is very innovative and many programmes are not currently taking advantage of this.
The goal is to take girls who may have decided, at a very young age, that they are not capable in the STEM subjects and turn those decisions around. Across the board, SHINE has seen tremendous success in achieving this. Some girls, who join the programme because they are failing in mathematics, later come back as SHINE mentors while completing advanced mathematics courses.
A branch of SHINE can be started anywhere around the world and is usually started by a local charity. Each branch is responsible for funding.

See this innovation in action.

blends maths with dance
Bogdan Badiu


Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Find or start a SHINE for Girls branch
Take a look at the current SHINE locations or set up a new one.
Read more
Follow-up phone call
Speak to SHINE about joining a local branch or setting up SHINE in a new location.
Read more
Host the first SHINE programme
With the help of a Regional Director, recruitment for the programme can begin.
Read more
Maintain a relationship with SHINE
SHINE welcomes feedback and actively encourages those running programmes to share their experiences in order to continuously improve.
Read more

Connect with the innovator

Kirin Sinha
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