The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) has organized Tekla festivals together with Robyn in Stockholm for the past five years, and when Tekla is going international, the goal is just as before: to involve more girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by offering environments where they can build, test and create with technology together with female role models.
The international tour is presented by the Swedish Institute and KTH together with Swedish embassies and consulates and is part of the Swedish Institute’s mission to create dialogue on important societal issues internationally. In 2019, Tekla has visited Washington, Brasília and Mumbai and will continue to inspire girls around the world in 2020.
In New York, the Tekla Festival is part of Sweden Makes Music and the focus is on challenges and opportunities for girls and women in the music industry. For the past seven years, the Consulate General and Export Music Sweden, in collaboration with Luger, have been running the Sweden Makes Music project to draw attention to Swedish music and the music industry in the United States. Artists such as Sabina Ddumba, Silvana Imam and Sarah Klang have previously participated and now the project returns with the artists Elias, Mapei, Le Sinner, DJ Clea and Morabeza Tobacco.
The theme for Tekla in New York is music production and workshop leaders are Brenda El Rayes and Barbara Chamoun from Popkollo, a music camp for girls and transgender people that started in Hultsfred in 2003 and has since had over 4,000 participants. Popkollo was also a role model for Robyn when she took the initiative to the Tekla festival. Barbara Chamoun says that:
– Tekla’s values are universal and we are pleased to be able to reach out to girls in New York. There are big gaps between the gender roles in today’s music industry and so we have to start early by showing opportunities and creating role models for future generations.
In connection with the festival, a panel discussion, Tekla Dialogue, will be held on the under-representation of women in music-tech and STEM, the lack of role models and how the roles of girls and women can be strengthened. In addition to Barbara Chamoun, the panel discussion in New York also includes Mapei, Yamilée Toussaint Beach, founder of STEM From Dance and Phi Pham, CEO of Building Beats. The panel discussion is moderated by Vanessa Hill, who founder of the YouTube channel Braincraft.
Madeleine Sjöstedt is Director General of the Swedish Institute:
– Tekla is not just about innovation and how we should get more girls and women interested in tech. It is simply about equality being a fundamental human right.
KTH’s Rector Sigbritt Karlsson believes that the joint mission to attract more women and girls to technology studies and a continued career in STEM is about quality.
– We need to be able to reach as much talent and potential as possible. It is therefore important that we encourage girls – from all cultures. In Sweden, too, we struggle to engage women in the technology area.