Impact Stories from Youth Engagement Policy Area
Fellow shares insights on using open source tools for teaching
Fellow(s): Chioma Ezedi
TechWomen mentors Jessica Dickinson Goodman and Fatema Kothari, both board members of the Internet Society of the San Francisco Bay Area, recently started a blog series on the organization’s website, highlighting tech leaders from outside of the United States. Chioma Ezedi, 2016 fellow of Nigeria, contributed to the series, writing about how she is using open source tools such as Arduino to teach computer science in rural Nigeria.
Chioma is a software developer who is passionate about education technology and currently serves as a project lead and mentor at STEMTeers, an initiative to inspire, engage and promote children and youth into STEM. In the blog post, she outlines the challenges STEM education is facing in Nigeria due to the lack of infrastructure and equipment, which has been further exacerbated by schools closing due to the pandemic. With the increasing availability of open source resources being iterated and improved upon, she sees the opportunity for them to enhance students’ learning during this time and beyond: “I realized Open Source is for more than free tools, software or hardware; it was a great opportunity to learn, learn by building and create with innovation.”
Report Date...: 7/27/20
Fellow(s): Alaa Khoja
This week, 2019 fellow of Libya Alaa Khoja celebrated the completion of Teccamp, an eight-week web and mobile app course for young students in Libya. Teccamp is run through Alaa’s employer, Tatweer Research, a company that educates and empowers Libya’s young entrepreneurs. Alaa works as their community development officer, responsible for selecting Teccamp’s trainers and applicants as well as supervising the program. Teccamp’s goal is to instill in its graduates an entrepreneurial spirit, inspiring them to start businesses of their own.
Originally planned to be in-person, the course was moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alaa and her team also faced internet issues and persistent 10-hour power outages, requiring them to try different technologies and work together to usher the students through the learning process. Ultimately, their students – mostly comprised of university students and new graduates — were trained in front-end and back-end languages, database design and app development. Trainees also applied their knowledge to innovative projects that they presented at the conclusion of the course. “Teccampers went through a lot this time,” said Alaa. “But nothing inspired me more than their stamina and their love of learning.”
Report Date...: 7/20/20
TechWomen alumnae offer advice and inspiration for TechGirls
Fellow(s): Azhar Mambetova, Dalel Mansour, Faten Khalfallah, Ghada Ameen, Nisreen Deeb, Sara Dib
Country: Algeria, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Tunisia
Cohort: 2013, 2015, 2018, 2019
Recently, TechGirls created a resource for TechGirls participants and girls interested in STEM fields to hear from TechWomen fellows, receive mentorship and learn about careers in STEM. Profiles of Women in STEM features TechWomen fellows from Algeria, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon and Tunisia who created videos sharing their career journeys and the lessons they learned along the way.
Fellows Azhar Mambetova (Kyrgyzstan, 2019), Dalel Mansour (Tunisia, 2015), Faten Khalfallah (Tunisia, 2015) Ghada Ameen (Egypt, 2018), Nisreen Deeb (Lebanon, 2013) and Sara Dib (Algeria, 2019) participated in the initiative, highlighting their career wins and challenges, and offering advice for girls who are curious about STEM. “I chose to teach in technology because I wanted to inspire others…and you can inspire others too,” said Faten, who also gave advice for finding a career in STEM: “I advise all the TechGirls, all the girls, to discover many domains and many subjects. I advise them to choose the career that you love,” she said. Azhar chronicled her career in banking and fintech, speaking about what drives her to mentor others: “In my career, I hadn’t had a lot of role models…and at some point, I decided I can become one,” she said. Nisreen presented on her experience as a woman in tech, encouraging girls to raise their voice, ask for help and give back to their community. “I’m really proud to be a woman in tech,” she said. “Why? Because we can inspire, we can give back to our community and we can help other people.”
Report Date...: 7/13/20
Fellow shares advice to young entrepreneurs in webinar
Fellow(s): Salma Gherraby
This week, 2019 fellow Salma Gherraby delivered a webinar for young entrepreneurs in Morocco, sharing best practices on building a thriving business. The series, [email protected], is hosted by Ajtcd, a local NGO, with support from the U.S. Embassy Rabat.
Salma is the founder and CEO of Business Innovation, a tech consultancy and training firm. In her session, “10 Steps to Launch my Startup,” Salma presented on establishing a foundation for startups, developing an entrepreneurial mindset and understanding the entrepreneurial ecosystem within Morocco. She also shared her own journey in entrepreneurship and technology, demonstrating how she has built her own brand, developed a business model and learned how to effectively problem solve throughout her career. “45 people stayed and concentrated until the end, were interactive and even stayed after the session,” said Salma.
Report Date...: 6/29/20
Fellow featured as advocate for gender equality in STEM fields
Fellow(s): Sadaf Shaheen
This week, 2018 fellow Sadaf Shaheen was interviewed in City Pulse magazine, an online periodical from Amnick, a UK-based social enterprise consulting firm. Sadaf is an international collaborator for their Smart Cities program.
In the feature, Sadaf reflects on the challenges she has faced as a woman in tech in Pakistan, sharing her work to dispel stronglyheld gender stereotypes within the country. “I knew it would be especially hard for me to enter the notoriously male-dominated field given the deeply entrenched gender norms in Pakistan, but I did it anyway,” she said. “Now, I am working as a role model in my native town for young girls.” Sadaf also spoke about her participation in the TechWomen program, as well as her upcoming professional goals. Soon, she hopes to launch a startup that trains women and girls in STEM fields, as well as expand her work as regional ambassador for Technovation.
Report Date...: 6/29/20
Fellow mentors Technovation team on COVID-19 mobile app
Fellow(s): Layal Zakhour
Recently, 2015 fellow Layal Zakhour helped lead the Technovation initiative in the United Arab Emirates, serving as club leader for nine teams of girls. Layal currently lives in the UAE, working for GE as a staff software architect.
Although many teams made the decision to postpone their mobile apps until next year due to COVID-19 difficulties, three teams were able to submit their projects. Layal mentored a team of 13 and 14 year old girls, teaching them the Technovation curriculum over weekly online sessions. Together, her team identified leading issues in their community and ultimately created RECOVER-19, a mobile application that connects patients in quarantine with doctors. The app allows patients to send out daily health check reports and communicate with their doctors online, aiming to reduce unnecessary hospital visits and prioritize critical cases. “Any woman can make an impact in her community. I am happy to help young girls become problem solvers in a time of crisis,” said Layal.
Report Date...: 6/1/20
Fellow awarded Schlumberger Faculty for the Future Fellowship.
Fellow(s): Mercy Sosanya
2015 fellow Mercy Sosanya was recently named a recipient of the 2020-2021 Schlumberger Faculty for the Future Fellowship, a program that supports women from developing countries to pursue advanced graduate degrees in STEM fields at leading universities abroad.
Mercy is a nutritionist, PhD student and teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work focuses on improving the nutritional status of women, children and other vulnerable populations. Recently, she has been developing and evaluating a digital behavior change tool for teenage mothers in northern Nigeria that aims to both improve feeding practices as well as the nutrition status of the mothers and their young children.
The fellowship award will provide Mercy financial support for her research and allow her to continue leveraging technology to create solutions for young mothers and their children in Nigeria.
Report Date...: 5/25/20
Daily Nation recognizes fellow for leadership in education
Fellow(s): Linah Anyango
This week, 2019 fellow Linah Anyango was featured in a Daily Nation story that highlighted her efforts to educate Kenya’s students during the coronavirus pandemic. Linah is a teacher and the head of the science department at a secondary school in Mombasa, and also trains educators on bringing digital literacy and STEM mentorship for girls to their classrooms.
Over the last few months, Linah has mobilized over 65 teachers to support students whose education was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. The educators – teachers in biology, chemistry, math and physics from multiple countries – have been working together to prepare engaging STEM lessons that they deliver during daily Zoom classes. Linah releases each week’s curriculum in advance, sharing links for students who want to participate in the Monday to Saturday lessons. Each class, open to as many as 300 students, has 15 teachers present who assign lessons and grade students’ work. So far, the initiative has reached over 1,200 students. Linah, who recently delivered a webinar for teachers on addressing education inequalities, says that COVID-19 has further exposed unequal access to learning opportunities. Her weekly lessons, however, have been able to reach students in remote and rural areas: those who don’t have personal devices have implemented social distancing meet-ups in churches and local community spaces, learning together on a projector.
Report Date...: 5/18/20
Fellow lists seven tips for girls interested in STEM
Fellow(s): Ghada Amin
This month, 2018 fellow Ghada Amin created a YouTube video to share tips, advice and inspiration for TechGirls participants. In “7 tips to select your STEM field,” Ghada, an environmental engineer, lists her best practices for finding a career, seeking mentorship and succeeding in STEM.
In her first tip, Ghada tells girls to begin with their passion – something they currently love to study – and turn it into a career. “You may get tired, but you won’t get bored,” she says. Ghada also urges girls to be adaptive, explaining that by creating more than one plan for their future, they are ensuring their success no matter what. Ghada also speaks about the importance of persistence, as many girls face gender discrimination within STEM fields. Finding a mentor, Ghada says, will help them overcome challenges. Ghada’s final tip is to believe in yourself and always choose what is right over what is easy. “You can be the first in a male-dominated field,” she says. “Don’t let being outnumbered make you change your mind. And congratulations in advance – you will be a pioneer.”
Report Date...: 5/18/20
Forced to close centers fellow makes online learning free for all
Fellow(s): Rana El Chemaitelly
2017 fellow Rana El Chemaitelly is the founder of The Little Engineer, an initiative that educates students of all ages in robotics, coding, AI, 3D modeling and more at their five centers throughout Lebanon. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Rana made the early decision to close all her centers – home to high-touch surfaces for interactive STEM activities – in order to ensure the safety of the kids that participate in The Little Engineer’s 45 programs.
Rana, however, didn’t want to take learning opportunities away from students, especially as they faced increased difficulty learning at home. “I wanted to keep supporting kids and come out stronger,” she said. As a result, Rana made The Little Engineer online activities free to all students around the world, beginning with 3D modeling lessons in building and designing objects like boats, airplanes and houses. Rana knew that not all students would have the bandwidth to run her regular programs: “We had to be very fast-moving to enable everyone to be engaged online,” she says. Her solution was to use Tinkercad by Autodesk, a free app for 3D design and electronics. Word of the online programs spread, and The Little Engineer platform is now used by teachers and students in Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa and the U.S. “Teachers are focused on getting it right so they continue to provide a great educational experience for their students,” says Rana. “If we give opportunities to students, they can excel.”
Report Date...: 5/11/20