Impact Stories from Education Diplomacy/Mentoring Policy Area
Fellow awarded grant for STEM-based education initiative
Fellow(s): Mutriba Akhmedova
Mutriba Akhmedova, 2015 fellow of Tajikistan, was awarded a U.S. Embassy Alumni Grant for her new initiative, Girls in STEM. Through digital literacy workshops, information sessions and tech bootcamps, Girls in STEM will encourage high school girls in Tajikistan to choose careers in STEM fields, hoping to reduce societal stereotypes of women in STEM along the way. “STEM is new for the people of Tajikistan, especially in schools,” Mutriba said. “The project will hopefully have a huge impact on girls.”
The Public Affairs section of the U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan administers an annual Alumni Grant Program to support alumni-initiated projects aimed at promoting community service and the dissemination of professional knowledge. Next month, Mutriba will officially launch Girls in STEM, targeting 40 girls throughout four regions of Tajikistan, providing immersive education experiences and instilling in them a passion for STEM fields.
Report Date: 10/15/2018
Fellow convenes summit in Abuja to advocate for girls’ rights
Fellow(s): Carolyn Seaman
2017 fellow of Nigeria Carolyn Seaman, founder of Girls Voices, organized the 2018 Girls Summit in Abuja last week to commemorate International Day of the Girl. The event, implemented in partnership with the Global Fund for Women, brought together government agencies, advocates, representatives of diplomatic missions and the media to advance girls’ voices and advocate for their rights and protection. Throughout the day, 126 secondary school girls addressed the summit’s attendees, speaking about child marriage, gender-based violence and girls’ lack of equal educational opportunities.
Carolyn, referencing Nigeria’s rank of 122 out of 144 in the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, aimed to secure commitments from stakeholders in order to protect girls’ rights and security. By the end of the day, stakeholders drafted a statement committing themselves to increase outreach, support engaging initiatives and mobilize to protect girls’ rights. As one young participant said in her remarks to the audience, “We want the chance to be leaders of today… tomorrow is too far.”
Report Date: 10/15/2018
Fellow named to 30 under 30 list by Forbes Africa
Fellow(s): Arielle Kitio
Arielle Kitio, 2016 fellow of Cameroon, was recently named 30 under 30 for Forbes Africa (website in French). Arielle was recognized for her work as the founder of CAYSTI, an initiative that supports and educates students through after-school STEM programs, a youth tech lab and a business incubator aimed at improving the gender balance in tech. “Our vison at CAYSTI is to create an egalitarian ecosystem where every youth from [least developed countries], regardless of sex, language or social level have equal access to meaningful STEM learning experiences,” she said. “Our programs and tools are designed to create the next generation of leaders with technology as an equalizer and empowerment tool.”
In addition to her work with CAYSTI, Arielle is a Technovation mentor as well as a Next Einstein Ambassador, representing Cameroon at Next Einstein Forum programs and sharing her work and publications on their platforms.
Report Date: 10/8/2018
Fellow secures funding for STEM education initiative with support from TechWomen mentors
Fellow(s): Chioma Ezedi
Country: Nigeria, United States
Chioma Ezedi, 2016 fellow of Nigeria, recently received U.S. State Department funding for STEMTeers, her initiative that provides STEM-based educational programming to students in Nigeria. Chioma, while participating in TechWomen’s 2018 delegation trip to Nigeria, shared the difficulties she was facing as she searched for funding to continue STEMTeers activities.
During the delegation, she connected with Impact Coach Jessica Dickinson Goodman for support, who along with TechWomen Professional Mentor Larissa Shapiro reviewed Chioma’s grant application, providing valuable input on how to better position STEMTeers. “Jessica showed me how I can make the application more exciting, clear and focused,” said Chioma.
Building on the success of sessions they led during the delegation trip, Jessica and Larissa also recently facilitated an enrichment webinar for fellows, “Finding Funding for Social Impact Projects,” and Jessica has compiled and shared a database of more than 2,000 grants available in TechWomen program countries.
In addition to founding STEMTeers, Chioma is a software programmer at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Nigeria. Jessica is currently an Impact Coach for Emerging Leaders from the Palestinian Territories, supporting them in the development of their action plan, and Larissa is a Professional Mentor at Mozilla.
Report Date: 10/1/18
Team Tunisia wins four awards at FIRST Global Challenge 2018
Fellow(s): Faten Khalfallah
2015 fellow of Tunisia Faten Khalfallah led a group of students to victory at the 2018 FIRST Global Challenge in Mexico City. The annual robotics competition, which centers on 14 Grand Challenges for improving life on the planet as identified by the U.S National Academy of Engineering, brings together 192 countries in a three-day Olympics-style robotics competition. Team Tunisia, comprised of local youth mentored by Faten, won two gold medals: the Dr. Mae Jemison Award for International Unity, awarded to teams that break down barriers and build bridges, and the Munsa Mousa award for fundraising. They also won the Social Media Award, and Faten was presented the Outstanding Mentor Award for her exceptional leadership.
While in the TechWomen program, Faten was hosted at Autodesk, learning more about 3D design software. After returning home, she organized a summer tech camp to bring students together for five days of immersive STEM experiences and was selected as a 2016 Generation Change Fellow from the United States Institute of Peace. Currently, she is a regional project coordinator and ambassador of the VEX Girl-Powered Initiative at VEX Robotics.
Report Date: 8/27/2018
TechWomen partners with Microsoft for Ignite conference
Fellow(s): Nisrine Deeb, Ouafa Benterki, Noura Ghali Bergouza, Fatima Zohra Benhamida
Country: Algeria, Lebanon, Tunisia
Cohort: 2012, 2013, 2014
IIE is pleased to announce a partnership with Microsoft, which will sponsor four TechWomen alumnae to speak at and attend the 2018 Microsoft Ignite conference. Nisreen Deeb, 2013 fellow of Lebanon, Ouafa Benterki and Fatima Zohra Benhamida, 2012 and 2017 fellows of Algeria, respectively, and Noura Ghali Bergouza, 2014 fellow of Tunisia, were selected to take part in the sold-out event held on September 24-28 in Orlando, Florida. Now in its fourth year, Microsoft Ignite connects IT professionals to industry leaders shaping the future of tech innovation. Through 700+ deep-dive sessions, learning labs and high-profile keynotes, attendees will gain insight and skills catering to their personal and professional interests. During the five-day event, TechWomen alumnae will participate in diversity pre-day activities as well as speak at breakout sessions and panels, including a session discussing how IT pros can be better advocates for diversity and inclusion.
Nisreen works a systems analyst and project manager, and is the founder of The Mini Programmer, a computer programming curriculum for students. Ouafa is CEO of MTY Intelligent Software, a technology startup that provides data analytics and localization services and was named the Women in Data Science Ambassador to Algeria in 2017-18. Fatima serves as Assistant Professor at the National School of Computer Science in Algiers. Noura, a cloud and B2B service manager at Tunisie Telecom, is also the Vice President of Women Leaders in Technology Tunisia.Read More »
Report Date: 8/20/2018
Mentor(s): Rekha Pai, Erin Keeley, Maile Smith, Diana Macias, Bianca Lederer, Sandra Chen
Company: Cresta Ventures, Facebook, Genentech, Twitter, Western Digital
Mentor Type: Impact, Professional
A group of six TechWomen mentors traveled to Malaysia to lead programming to empower, connect and support the next generation of women leaders in STEM fields. Supported by the U.S. Department of State and working closely with U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur, Rekha Pai (of Cresta Ventures), Erin Keeley (Western Digital), Maile Smith (Northgate Environmental Management), Diana Macias (Twitter), Bianca Liederer (Genentech) and Sandra Chen (Facebook) met with government representatives, women in the workforce, youth leaders, entrepreneurs and government-sponsored incubators throughout the country.
Rekha, a longtime TechWomen mentor, previously traveled to Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore as part of the U.S. Speakers Program, sponsored by the Bureau of International Information Programs. Following the success of her earlier trip, Rekha was invited back and assembled a team of mentors, nearly all of whom have participated in past TechWomen delegation trips, to join the “Women in Tech Delegation.” The group participated as judges and mentors at the National Science Challenge, a premier science competition that included 2,400 teams from over 50,000 students throughout Malaysia. They also visited Penang Science Cluster and met entrepreneurs at MaGIC, Malaysia’s government-sponsored global innovation and incubation center.
Report Date: 8/13/2018
Fellow shares perspectives with recent engineering graduates
Fellow(s): Samia Elhanchi
2017 fellow of Morocco Samia Elhanchi spoke to recent engineering graduates at Career Bootcamp [website in French], an annual gathering of engineers in Morocco. The event, organized by the Engineers Forum Association, brought together 50 recent engineering graduates and experts in the field for a week of training, conferences and workshops. Experts shared their knowledge and best practices, guiding the recent graduates on their career choices and encouraging knowledge sharing. Samia is a senior project and portfolio manager at Orange Morocco.
In her address, Samia shared lessons learned throughout 20 years in the industry, outlining her career journey, her academic achievements and the difficult decisions she made balancing professional and personal goals. Joined on stage by her husband, also an engineer, Samia spoke about how teamwork and mutual support of each other’s ambition aided their professional success. She concluded by stressing the importance of lifelong learning, reflecting on her TechWomen experience and the impact of networking, mentorship and community involvement.Read More »
Report Date: 8/6/2018
Fellow launches STEM makerspace for local children
Fellow(s): Saba Rasheed Malik
Fellow Saba Rasheed Malik (2017) of Pakistan has launched weePro, a program that provides a collaborative learning experience for children and teenagers. Designed to develop skills such as computational thinking, creativity and analysis, weePro’s programming includes a STEM-based makerspace, as well as a robotics and programming camp. At weePro, students are immersed in STEM-based learning, developing code for autonomous robots and conducting experiments that teach working principles of automobiles, vacuum cleaners and floating boats. Recently, weePro completed its pilot program in partnership with a local community center. “It turned out to be a life-changing experience for them,” says Saba.
While in the TechWomen program, Saba worked on the development of educational games at Lumosity. Since her return to Pakistan, in addition to launching weePro, Saba has organized civic hackathons and technology-driven bootcamps for young girls. Currently, she is an assistant professor in computer science at the National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences in Islamabad, Pakistan.Read More »
Report Date: 8/6/2018
Fellow awarded Schlumberger Faculty for the Future fellowship
Fellow(s): Titi Aladesanmi
2015 fellow of Nigeria Dr. Omolara (Titi) Aladesanmi was awarded the 2018-2019 Sclumberger Faculty for the Future fellowship. Titi, who specializes in ecotoxicology and bioremediation and is a lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University, is one of 50 new fellows selected from a total of 555 applicants.
During the 2015 TechWomen program, Titi was paired with Professional Mentor Dr. Romy Chakraborty at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Three years later, her Faculty for the Future fellowship will brings her back to the Bay Area, where she will once again work alongside Dr. Chakraborty. Titi’s research, “Bioremediation of Cyanide Polluted Water,” will investigate environmentally sustainable ways of reclaiming polluted environments.
The Schlumberger Foundation, an independent non-profit that supports STEM education, developed its fellowship to support women in STEM during their postgraduate studies.
Report Date: 7/30/2018