Rolling Out

3D Girls founder Raioni Madison is empowering young women in tech

Raioni Madison believes more opportunities should be given to Black women and girls of color

Raioni Madison credits the mentors in her life who at a young age inspired her to create 3D Girls, an organization that is educating and empowering young women and girls with resources and access to STEAM. Learning about and working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math is helping them to feel confident about expressing themselves and exploring the field more fully. 3D Girls has grown into a national organization helping to provide access to girls all across the world.

Madison spoke with rolling out about 3D Girls, her inspiration for creating the organization, and tips for young girls looking to thrive in today’s society.

Why is it important to uplift these girls and provide them opportunities to flourish?

If we think about our landscape of Black teens and the statistics, we’re always seeing such harsh, violent, and harmful things happening in the media about youth. Right now, what we’re experiencing in post-pandemic life is that 40% of eighth to 12th-grade girls are experiencing signs of depression, signs of anxiety, and stress. That’s a tough feeling when you aren’t inspired, when you aren’t motivated, you aren’t prompted or excited about your future, and you’re not excited about pursuing this career. We feel as though it’s important to navigate how girls feel and address those feelings before trying to put STEAM and STEM in their pathways.

You have to feel good about yourself and be confident because girls, specifically Black women, are highly underrepresented in the STEM industry and 15% of working women in STEM are African American or Black. When we see those small percentages of people doing these big things and being representative of fields that are growing such as tech and science, Black women and girls of color are highly underrepresented. We need to be able to provide access and give girls the tools to have that coping and resiliency to navigate these tough industries.

How has being a mom helped you through this business?

Being a mom has definitely been the main way of exemplifying a role model. If I can’t be a role model to my daughters, how can I be a role model to the girls that we serve in our program? I’ve been a mom all my adult life, so my 16-year-old daughter, we’ve grown up together. I don’t say that in a bad way, but we’re at a time where I’m helping her navigate going to college and making big decisions and really getting ideas about life, that I had to get for my mentors. Knowing that I have that impact on just that one child or my two children just means so much to me.

I work very hard to create spaces for my children to feel proud of me and the work that I’m doing. Being a mom is hard, we have the day-to-day, we have to pick up and drop off, and navigate their emotions while navigating our emotions, and I think it’s just created an opportunity for me to just be a more resilient individual [all] in all. We are just coming out [of] Mother’s Day and we had the opportunity to honor moms from all different walks of life, whether they are moms in spirit, from teachers, counselors, and mentors, our aunts, our family members, our grandparents, and again, everybody has their own journey with parenting and becoming a mom, so it doesn’t always mean you have to birth a child to mother and nurture the well being of another individual.

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