Elaine Hamel's girl empowerment keynote follows a simple formula: building plus experimental learning will result in girl power.
Hamel's career as a struggling general contractor eventually lea her to teaching building workshops to disadvantaged girls at summer camp. The camp pupils she taught often had parents who suffered from addiction, or lacked parental figures in their lives all together. Throughout her teaching experiences, Hamel noticed a strange phenomenon: the girls' demeanor instantly changed the second they put on their tool belt. It was as if wearing the belt made them feel strong, successful and smart -- labels they were unaccustomed to hearing, both as girls and underprivileged youths.
Hamel specifically recounts an experience in which the girls were startled to learn they had completed a task almost perfectly. They had become so acclimatized to defining themselves through failure, their success came as a genuine surprise. Hamel's work, which she does in collaboration with many organizations, seeks to eliminate this failure-driven mindset by devoting trust and belief in their subjects. The aim in Hamel's project is not about power tools, but building a sense of power.