Impact Stories from Empowering Women and Girls Policy Area
Fellow interviewed about her work in computer science
Fellow(s): Fatima Zohra Benhamida
2017 fellow of Algeria Fatima Zohra Benhamida was recently highlighted in the Nsesa Foundation’s STEM Wow series, a recurring feature that shines a light on women in STEM making an impact globally.
Fatima is an assistant professor of computer science as well as a board member of the TechWomen/TechGirls Club in Algeria. In her interview, Fatima speaks about her decade of experience in both research and education and shares her advice for women entering STEM fields. When asked about her greatest achievements, Fatima names completing her PhD in computer science as well as her selection for the TechWomen program. “I particularly feel a sense of achievement when I brought back all the skills from the Silicon Valley and made many volunteering projects which help the community in general, and enable technology access for girls in rural areas in particular,” she said.
Report Date...: 12/23/19
Mentor(s): Eileen Brewer (mentor), Munira Begmuratova, Zebo Isakova
This month, TechWomen mentor Eileen Brewer traveled to Uzbekistan for a week of STEM programming meant to educate and empower local women and girls. Eileen, a longtime Professional Mentor at Symantec and 2019 Impact Coach for team Pakistan, traveled with TechWomen on the 2019 delegation trip to Uzbekistan.
In Tashkent, Eileen collaborated with fellows from multiple program years as well as the U.S. Embassy to create workshops for young girls interested in STEM, talks with early-stage women entrepreneurs, TechGirls outreach sessions and more. Eileen also had the opportunity to meet once again with young entrepreneurs at the NEST after-school program, a school she had visited during TechWomen’s delegation trip. Joined by 2016 fellow Munira Begmuratova, Eileen met with students ages eight to 16 to conduct a pitch training and support the young entrepreneurs in refining their business plans. Alongside 2019 fellow Zebo Isakova, Eileen met with 30 women for a workshop on early startup training for their craft and clothing businesses.
After she departed Tashkent, Eileen continued on to Armenia to present at a USG alumni conference on innovation, entrepreneurship and networking.
Report Date...: 12/16/19
20 girls graduate from fellow’s Girls Auto Squad program
Fellow(s): Oduwa Agboneni
This week, 20 girls graduated from Girls Auto Squad, an automotive training program created by 2019 fellow Oduwa Agboneni. The six-month training aims to address the skills shortage and gender gap in the Nigerian automotive industry through empowering underserved girls. Oduwa, a mechanical engineer, is also the founder/CEO of Nenis Auto Care and the executive director of the Nenis Foundation.
In collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Mechanical Engineers and local foundations, Oduwa created a comprehensive training and internship program that teaches both technical and entrepreneurship skills; each girl graduated as a certified diagnostic and quick service technician. “GAS is a direct response to the challenges facing young girls in these urban centers,” says Oduwa. “The program will provide a viable pipeline of skilled female technicians to establish their own entrepreneurial ventures.” Moving forward, Oduwa hopes to create an online training program for technicians in order to reach more girls across Nigeria.
Report Date...: 12/16/19
Fellow collaborates with GE to donate laptops to girls’ school
Fellow(s): Salome Gathoni
Recently, 2018 fellow Salome Gathoni collaborated with her employer, GE, to donate a computer lab to a public girls’ high school in Kenya. Internet connection for the lab was donated by Valenter Global, a company Salome was introduced to during TechWomen that brings skills training to underserved communities.
After Salome’s TechWomen mentor at Unity Technologies introduced her to Valenter founder Natalie Meyer, Salome travelled to Burlington to meet Natalie and her team after TechWomen concluded in Washington, D.C. Soon after, Salome submitted a proposal to a GE Foundation program designed to empower less privileged communities by providing technology, training and connectivity. Working alongside Natalie, GE and St. Anne’s Girls Secondary School in Nairobi, Salome coordinated the donation of 30 laptops, flat screen monitors, keyboards and mice to the schools’ 870 girls. The girls also had the opportunity to learn from visiting GE senior staff, who shared their career journeys and inspired the girls to remain ambitious despite challenges.
The school has already begun digital literacy training and is providing classes on using the internet for academic research. “The school will be able to provide educational support for the students in a better and efficient way, thereby enhancing their competency in STEM,” says Salome. “The girls can dream big and become great.”
Report Date...: 12/9/19
Mentor(s): Mercedes Soria
Mentor Type: Impact
TechWomen Impact Coach Mercedes Soria recently authored an article for Forbes outlining the lack of gender diversity in tech, and how both individuals and tech companies can increase the representation of women in tech roles. Mercedes is the chief intelligence officer at Knightscope, leading a software engineering team and working in robotics, machine learning and AI. She is also part of the U.S. Speaker Program, and travels around the world to speak about women in technology.
In her article, Mercedes provides three strategies to increase women’s representation and professional growth. Her third strategy encourages companies to provide employee resource groups, or affinity groups, where women can discuss shared challenges and have a voice in company policy. Specifically, Mercedes suggestions implementing mentorship programs, stressing that the mentee/mentor relationship is mutually beneficial: “It is not true that only the mentee gets something out of a mentoring relationship,” she wrote. “Mentors also learn a lot about life and how the newer generation does things.”
Report Date...: 12/9/19
Fellows named Next Einstein Forum Ambassadors
Fellow(s): Chioma Ezedi, Sebay Momoh
Country: Nigeria, Sierra Leone
Cohort: 2013, 2018
This week, it was announced that 2016 fellow of Nigeria Chioma Ezedi and 2018 fellow of Sierra Leone Sebay Momoh were named to the 2019-2021 class of Next Einstein Forum Ambassadors. The NEF Ambassador program selects young technology and science champions from each African country to lead public engagement activities and partner with established mentors and researchers to advance their own careers in STEM.
Chioma, a software programmer and founder of STEMteers, is hoping to accelerate collaboration with other STEM advocacy groups, using the local dialect for outreach in order to make NEF’s Africa Science Week successful in every part of Nigeria. She is also eager to localize science advocacy in her community: “Nothing thrives if only a small percentage of the population understands it,” she says.
Sebay is a petroleum engineer and the program coordinator for STEM Women SL, an NGO that aims to improve science education in Sierra Leone. As a NEF ambassador, she will continue to advocate for quality science education in Sierra Leone. “I am passionate about creating the right ecosystem to nurture brilliant and innovative ideas of young scientists in Sierra Leone,” says Sebay. “I want to shine a light on young creative minds, source funding to help them improve on their ideas and also inspire others. The more people are exposed to opportunities of this nature, the more hands and minds we have to work together. There is power in collaboration.”
Report Date...: 12/2/19
Mentor(s): Sreedevi Rao (mentor)
Mentor Type: Professional
This week, Professional Mentor Sreedevi Rao shared her takeaways as a TechWomen mentor at LinkedIn in a guest blog post published on the TechWomen website. The post, Breaking Boundaries in the Skies, outlines Sreedevi’s experience mentoring Emerging Leader Refilwe Ledwaba of South Africa, the founder of GFPA Foundation and the first African woman to earn a commercial helicopter pilot license.
Throughout the mentorship, Sreedevi and Refilwe collaborated to expand Refilwe’s skillsets, attending Toastmasters sessions together and connecting Refilwe to valuable contacts outside of LinkedIn. On her final day of the mentorship, Refilwe shared the changes she’d already implemented at her foundation. “While I was very proud to see her applying learnings so quickly and looking to what’s next, I knew I’d miss her infectious energy each day at work,” writes Sreedevi. “She is truly an inspiration and a role model; I’m lucky our professional paths have crossed. Being a mentor…is one of the most rewarding parts of my career.”
Report Date...: 11/25/19
Fellow hosts hackathon for justice at World Bank Group in DC
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa, United States
This month, 2017 fellow of South Africa Lindiwe Matlali’s initiative Africa Teen Geeks collaborated with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Bank Group to hold a global #Hackathon4Justice in Washington, D.C. Hosted at the World Bank Headquarters, the three-day hackathon brought 25 students ages 13-18 from Bulgaria, India, Mexico, Tunisia and South Africa together to develop solutions to combat exploitation and promote peace in their home countries and beyond. TechWomen director Katie Zee, Professional Mentor Eileen Brewer, and three 2019 TechWomen fellows attended the event; Eileen provided coaching and mentorship to the country teams, guiding them in crystallizing their ideas and presenting their pitches.
Over the three days, the five student teams learned from World Bank and UNODC leaders as they developed innovative solutions that promoted inclusive societies and access to justice for all. A panel of judges, which included Amy Christianson from the Department of State, named Mexico the winner at the end of the hackathon: the team’s interactive game for young children will be able to send red flag warnings to teachers about potential domestic violence situations. As a prize, the team will travel to the UN’s 14th Crime Congress in Kyoto in April 2020 to present their app. At the conclusion of the event, Lindiwe addressed all teams, saying “I have been so inspired to hear all your ideas. When you go home, do the same and inspire your peers to make a difference.”
Report Date...: 11/18/19
Mentor(s): Shalaka Prabhune (mentor)
Mentor Type: Impact
This week, TechWomen Impact Coach Shalaka Prabhune was awarded the gold Stevie Award for Digital Transformer of the Year. The Stevie Awards for Women in Business shine a spotlight on leading women executives, entrepreneurs and women-run organizations, recognizing their contributions to their respective industries. The winners were announced at the 16th annual awards dinner in New
This year, more than 1,500 nominations from organizations and individuals around the world were submitted; more than 200 members of seven juries determined the finalists and winners. Shalaka, the head of corporate IT at TiVo, was recognized under the HCL Red Ladder Women in Technology category, which recognizes women leaders who have positively impacted their industries while serving as role models for other women.
This year, Shalaka was an Impact Coach for team Jordan, who who won a 2019 seed grant for their mental health outreach platform, Sanad.
Report Date...: 11/18/19
Fellow featured as inspiring leader in STEM
Fellow(s): Bernadette Kargbo
Country: Sierra Leone
This month, 2018 fellow Bernadette Kargbo was featured by Nsesa Foundation for her work in civil engineering and her passion for investing in and mentoring girls and women. Nsesa, a STEM non-profit that educates and trains youth in Africa, features leaders in STEM fields for their ongoing “STEM Wow” series.
In her interview, Bernadette spoke about her journey to becoming station manager for Sierra Leone Water Company and providing safe access to drinking water for 25,000 people. She discussed her work as a project engineer for UNICEF’s WASH in Schools project, which focuses on providing water and sanitation facilities to over 200 schools across Sierra Leone. When asked about her greatest achievement, Bernadette said, “…my greatest achievement is my ‘transformed mindset.’ A greater credit goes to the TechWomen program that avails guidance and opportunities for me to maintain my passion and strengthen my scientific human capital.”
Report Date...: 11/11/19