By Joanne Liou, Communications and Impact Specialist
Emerging Leaders (ELs) embody a world of perspectives, ideas and willingness to make their communities and the global community a better place. Under the Juniper Aspiration Dome in Sunnyvale, Calif., Mitchell Baker, executive chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation and CEO of Mozilla Corporation, recognized how programs, such as TechWomen, unite technologists and leaders to explore what can be done when diverse views are exchanged.
Nearly 100 women representing 19 countries from Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East are participating in the 2015 program. “Building technologists and leaders who are diverse, who are global and who are able to go from local settings into regional and global leadership is a fundamental task,” Mitchell said at the 2015 TechWomen Kickoff on September 30. “I’m very interested in the exploration that we can do together and in combining multiple viewpoints to see what new ideas we can come up with.”
In Silicon Valley, innovation and technology are key to unlock new solutions, Mitchell explained. “Development, growth and empowerment of people cannot continue with the 19th and 20th century models, which are destroying the very air and planet and water that sustains us. We need new solutions – solutions that empower more people to help themselves, which means delegation of knowledge, tools, ability and authority to a much broader set of people.”
With global exchange and technologies that do not have particular boundaries, cultural groups coexist in the same place with different approaches to life. “This is an area in which this cross-cultural, cross-social perspective and understanding of each other and melding it into technology development is an important task ahead of us,” Mitchell said.
At the heart of TechWomen is the mission to empower and connect women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Beyond relationships that are formed during the program, the network and impact of TechWomen is far reaching. TechWomen fellows and mentors continue to lead and impact their respective communities, from launching STEM initiatives to startups that address social and environmental issues. “To solve the problems facing the world, we need people engaged at a level beyond, ‘this is my job, and this is my paycheck,’” Mitchell said. “We need something much deeper to create the kinds of change that we’re looking to see.”
“There’s a lot of room for change, improvement and growth and something really different,” Mitchell stated, “and this is a group that can help make that happen.”
More than 40 innovative companies in the Bay Area will host ELs, including leading green tech companies – SolarCity, SunEdison, SunPower, Sunrun and Tesla. Mozilla has been a supporter of TechWomen since TechWomen launched its first program in 2011. This year, Mozilla will host six ELs: Esraa Abdelhalim, Egypt; Lara Ammar, Lebanon; Alaa Shaheen and Ayah Soufan, Palestinian Territories; Kumba Musa, Sierra Leone; and Mutriba Akhmedova, Tajikistan.