Westpac Woman of Influence driving change for young women
To say Alexia Hilbertidou is passionate about her work is an understatement.
Her drive and dedication to support women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers is undoubtedly the reason this 17-year-old founder of website GirlBoss NZ has been named as a top Kiwi change maker.
Last week Hilbertidou was presented the Westpac Women of Influence Young Leader award, given to the most influential woman in New Zealand under 25.
She says the win was "such a surprise", and describes the awards ceremony as motivating.
"All the women who've led change in their own organisations could come together with the same sort of purpose, and [have it be] a supportive environment for them," she says.
The Albany High School student from Red Beach, north Auckland, started GirlBoss NZ just last year.
It's aimed at supporting young women from 13 to 18 years old into STEM careers, and has a growing membership of over 1,000 nationwide.
There are also 40 GirlBoss ambassadors across Auckland and Wellington - students who organise events and seek to raise awareness in their schools about women in STEM.
Knowing what it's like to be the only girl in a digital technology or advanced physics class, Hilbertidou says young women are "hungry to connect" and the reach of GirlBoss speaks to the power of technology to connect like minds.
One of the greater missions of GirlBoss is also to protect women from job loss through automation.
"Women are at high risk [from job loss through automation], but at the same time they're not in the fields that are set to grow: science, technology, engineering, maths," Hilbertidou says.
"When we attract women to the STEM fields, we attract the best scientific solutions. Currently what we're seeing is we're trying to get the best pool of scientists, but we're only picking from 50 per cent of the population."
Hilbertidou also runs KaiShare, an online platform to allow excess food to be redistributed to food banks.
Next year, the year 13 says she aims to expand GirlBoss' reach and attract ongoing corporate sponsorship.
"It's just the start. We have nowhere reached capacity.
"I really want every young woman in the country to be supported and inspired by the work of GirlBoss, to get our resources, go to our events and hear our message encouraging [them]," she says.
- North Harbour News