Helping Women “Level Up”: Gaming For Good Meets Global Education

Kellie KreiserThis blog was posted on behalf of Kellie Kreiser, Executive Director of Thunderbird for Good and the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. In celebration of the Half the Sky game launch and Women’s History Month, we asked her to contribute a guest post on the intersection of gaming, education, and women in the developing world.

 Kellie’s work has been featured at the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative for three consecutive years since 2009. In 2010, she was a Deputy Topic Leader for the Clinton Global Initiative, helping to design the “Harnessing Human Potential” track of the Annual Meeting. Read Kellie’s full bio here.

Happy International Women’s Week! Did you know that Friday March 8th is International Women’s Day? It’s a day for celebrating the accomplishments of girls and women-globally.

I oversee an initiative at Thunderbird School of Global Management called Thunderbird for Good. I’m charged with taking the school’s world-class management expertise and access to business leaders to provide practical training to entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Most often, we work with women entrepreneurs who are starting and growing small enterprises. Over the last 8 years, over 70,000 women have participated in Thunderbird for Good programs across 25 different countries. These women run small businesses in everything from chicken farming to the production of fiberglass motorcycle parts. And they are job generators, employing from a few family members up to hundreds of workers!

I’m often asked why a business school that exists to educate MBA’s and high potential executives would spend so much energy on training women small business owners worldwide. The answer is an easy one… business schools teach us how to recognize good investments, and investing in women makes good business sense. Women are just about the best investment one can make, yet an incredibly underutilized resource.

One of Thunderbird’s signature programs is Project Artemis. In this program, we bring women entrepreneurs to our campus in Arizona for a two week intensive business boot camp. Over the course of the program, they take classes, visit companies, meet with mentors, and are given access to all the tools a businesswoman would need – including technology. In our first Artemis program in 2005, we brought Afghan women to Thunderbird. Intel and Dell teamed up to donate laptops for each woman in the class. I still remember watching the women take the computers out of the boxes and struggle to figure out how to turn them on. We ran another Artemis class for Afghan women this past January, and after the first few days, the women had created their own Facebook page and were friending everyone they met. The impact social media and technology has made on women in developing countries is astounding – what a difference 8 years makes!

This is one of the reasons why I am so excited about the launch of Half the Sky Movement: the Game. Released this week, the Facebook game leverages the global awareness brought about by the Half the Sky movement that developed out of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s bestselling book: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Leveraging the power of both social media and gaming, Half the Sky has the potential to make a big impact by giving players the opportunity to both learn more about the needs of women in developing countries and get involved. While the power of social media might be apparent to most, the potential of using game playing for good is less widely known. Games for Change, the developer of the Half the Sky Facebook game, is exploring that opportunity.

I am a huge fan of using games to make impact and think games could become a critical part of the work Thunderbird does in educating entrepreneurs. Gaming as a teaching tool can create a risk-free environment to learn. Think about flight simulators. Student pilots can crash as many times as they want in a simulator as they learn the skills needed to keep us safe in the air. Now imagine that you want to start your own business. You may have a little seed money borrowed from family or have saved yourself, but maybe not a lot of experience. Having the opportunity to garner business skills through a game could help build your business acumen and confidence.

 

Games are also just plain fun. People all around the globe face challenges with work-life balance. There just isn’t enough time for all the demands of home, a business, and education. But I have found that people almost always make time for things they enjoy – even if only for a few moments. If gaming can make learning fun, people are much more likely to squeeze game play (and consequentially, learning) into their day.

So I’m going to celebrate International Women’s Week by playing the Half the Sky: the Game, and learn about the inequities women face around the world. And if this game can simultaneously help educate and raise awareness, then power it up! It just might be the best way to help women worldwide “level up!”

Intel is a supporter of Half the Sky Movement – The Game. Follow us on Twitter @Intelinvolved.

Linda Qian

About Linda Qian

Linda focuses on CSR communications both internally and externally with Intel's global Corporate Responsibility Office. She graduated in December 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Conservation and Resource Studies from the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources. Follow Linda on Twitter at @lindalqian and @Intelinvolved. She is also active on LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and Instagram.

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