By Molly Pyle, Program Officer
It’s a brisk September day in Silicon Valley – a day like any other except that today, an international movement of women in tech is growing. Nearly 100 women have arrived in the Bay Area to begin their TechWomen experience. A community is being built, and it is flourishing; it might be the first time in a woman’s life when the phrase “power in numbers” resonates. With this revelation, she shines – and the world shifts, incrementally but permanently.
Individually and together, TechWomen alumnae, or fellows, have created solutions to social and economic issues in their home countries. These solutions range from using a mobile bus to teach computer skills to refugee girls in Rwanda to encouraging women’s participation in politics in Algeria. Fellows have successfully crowdfunded initiatives to build solar computer labs across Kenya, which will become tech education hubs for thousands of children. In Nigeria, TechWomen fellows are creating and delivering hands-on science kits, “STEM in a Box,” to rural schools to expose students to science and innovation, empowering them with the realization that they, too, can be makers. Fellows are busy in Egypt helping women re-enter the workforce after taking parental leave. In Jordan, they are teaching coding and robotics to children, developing a curriculum so successful that it has expanded to reach 40,000 students across the country. Meanwhile, TechWomen fellows in Kazakhstan have inspired more than 100 girls to join the Technovation Challenge, creating an app to solve a social issue in their community.
Perhaps the best part about these solutions is that the list is nowhere near exhaustive, capturing just a glimpse of the 100+ projects and initiatives TechWomen fellows have launched and are scaling in their home countries. This impact is catalyzed by their participation in the TechWomen program, a convening of women leaders who are ambitious change agents from 22 countries across the globe. Upon meeting each other, participating in workshops and mentorship, and expanding their networks, they come to find the only form of failure to be feared is the failure to achieve their utmost impact in the world.
This is the most transformative thing that can happen in a girl’s or woman’s life: realizing that her potential is limitless. The echoing sentiment of TechWomen is that with the realization of her own potential and confidence in her own abilities, she can build a better world. What this belief brings forth are women who are motivated, driven and confident that they can and will reach their full potential. TechWomen participants are women with the indomitable determination to turn around and share their vision with other women and girls.
The number of individuals touched by TechWomen fellows is vast and expanding daily. Through both osmosis and direct impact, the thousands of people they reach are equally inspired to reach for new and greater horizons. What happens when women know that they can change the world? They do. What happens when a woman builds a network and has the support of other strong women? She brings more along with her. TechWomen stands to prove, and does so time and time again, that if you invest in a woman and believe in her dreams, you positively change her future prospects – and she will do so for countless other members of her community and country. Person by person, day by day, she will transform societies.
TechWomen is a vitally important program for a multitude of reasons: the mentorship and professional development opportunities, the wealth of cultural exchange, the social impact initiatives that are born. But also, it is important simply because women matter – women making an impact, women occupying space in STEM and women leading the way to the future of innovation, technology and social progress. Now, more than ever, our visibility, our voice and our community matter. The TechWomen community is a powerful testament to the value of bringing women and allies together.
This is the essence of TechWomen, a light which is inextinguishable as it lives in every member of the 900+ strong TechWomen community. Langston Hughes famously asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?” The beauty of TechWomen is that we don’t intend to find out. With this community, the future looks a bit brighter. This is progress. This is what the world needs, now, more than ever. This is TechWomen.