Bay Area nonprofit SMASH partners with Athleta to empower young women in STEM

"Without SMASH, I wouldn't have had the initial confidence to pursue STEM."
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KGO) -- A new partnership is smashing barriers and empowering young women to pursue careers in STEM. ABC7 News Anchor Kumasi Aaron hosted a "Women in Stem" panel with clothing brand Athleta and the nonprofit SMASH.

It is a part of the organization's Smashing Barriers event series.

SMASH is a Bay Area organization on a mission to bring diversity to the tech workforce. One of the organizations programs places high school students at STEM focused college prep classes at top universities across the country for three summers at no cost to them.

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One student who went through the program and is now studying at UC Berkeley says its life changing.

"Without SMASH, I wouldn't have had the initial confidence like to pursue STEM," says SMASH Alum Semhar Tekllu. "And so SMASH was really that spark um and it showed me that it's definitely possible to you know take those harder classes and um take classes with people that don't necessarily look like you."

The ladies were also a part of a photo campaign with Athleta, featuring the brands fall line.

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"It is all about being confident and feeling empowered," says Athleta NorCal Area Marketing Manager Erica Green. "So these clothes were a representation of that. For the young ladies to put on the clothes and feel like they could conquer the world and conquer the STEM field."

Athleta and SMASH hope the collaboration will empower more young women to pursue opportunities in science, technology engineering and math.

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"We read the articles we hear the stories especially in our recent times about just the rather challenging experiences that young women are having be it in the workplace especially in tech," said SMASH CEO Danielle Rose.

"And so I think for us to be able to offer up the opportunity for others to hear that one you're not alone. Two, there are ways to really navigate be it the tech industry be it other stem industries successfully. And I think that's really important

for young women who are curious about STEM but also hear what the challenges might be and for them to be able to make informed decisions," she said.

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