Alexia (Samoan/Greek) is a 19-year-old entrepreneur who founded GirlBoss New Zealand, an organisation that empowers the next generation of female changemakers.
What do you do on an average work day?
I love what I do. I work at my startup GirlBoss New Zealand.
An average day could include sharing the GirlBoss message at speaking engagements at schools or corporate organisations. Or organising an upcoming GirlBoss event or initiative.
I also read articles about feminism, science or technology and answer a lot of emails!
What did you study at school? And what do you want to do now?
In my last year of high school, I studied Physics for Engineering, Digital Technology, Calculus, Statistics, and English. In Year 12, I was the only girl in my Digital Technology class and in Year 13 I was the only girl studying Physics for Engineering.
The isolation of those experiences was largely what urged me to start GirlBoss New Zealand. I wanted to create a community for like-minded New Zealand young women.
Was your study directly related to what you do now?
I studied Business for three years in high school and my passion for entrepreneurship was formed mainly through market stalls and pitching competitions. Learning Digital Technology and Physics gave me a good background knowledge, which has helped me understand the technology and science space.
What are some of your career highlights so far?
A highlight of my career so far was the GirlBoss Third Wave Conference, a two-day event that inspired 380 young women from across Auckland. Thanks to our sponsors, these young women got to hear from the likes of Michelle Dickinson (NanoGirl), Jacinda Ardern, Anna Curzon, Theresa Gattung and more.
I watched young women transform, their opinions of computer science and feminism were changed in the space of hours and everyone (including myself) left feeling empowered.
What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now?
I would definitely look into university requirements before Year 11 so that way you can be confident you are on the right track and won't need to pick up subjects later on (and if you are considering attending University of Auckland, make sure you meet the requirements for your proposed degree on Table A and B).
I strongly urge young women to not drop science & maths subjects in your early NCEA years, because if you change your mind it can be a challenge to catch up and can limit the courses you can attend in university.
I also recommend that young women try and get some work experience in their potential fields as young as possible. When I was in Year 10 I wanted to be a lawyer and so I spent a day of the holidays watching the proceedings at the local court. This gave me great insight into what the day-to-day work of lawyers involves and it helped me decide whether or not it was the right path for me.
Why do you believe engaging in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is important to New Zealand?
A diverse STEM workforce will ensure that technological innovations better represent our society and solve pressing global problems. We need to recruit the most talented people to STEM fields, and not including half the population (women) in the pool of possible scientists and engineers is short-sighted and self-limiting.
By supporting women STEM students we can out-innovate, out-educate and out-build our previous generations, resulting in greater prosperity for us all.
The pursuit of science knowledge is one of the greatest, most noble human pursuits with the power to solve our global problems - yet for most of history half our species have been barred from this adventure.
Video source: Westpac Red News
Alexia Hilbertidou is an 18-year-old entrepreneur who founded GirlBoss New Zealand, an organisation that empowers the next generation of female changemakers. You can follow GirlBoss on Facebook or Twitter.
This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM.
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