Suzanne Andrews, Director, TechWomen Liaison, Anita Borg Institute
The 2012 TechWomen emerging leaders from the Middle East and North Africa have arrived in Silicon Valley and San Francisco and are now well into their mentorships. The TechWomen program is a professional mentorship and exchange program between technical women in the Silicon Valley area and the MENA region. This year we have 41 women visiting from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Tunesia, and Yemen. TechWomen is an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs. It is being implemented by the Institute of International Education, in partnership with the Anita Borg Institute.
While they are here, each visiting emerging leader is working with a Professional Mentor at the mentor’s company. Each pair works together on a project of mutual interest, designed to address the emerging leader’s learning goals. Emerging leaders are being hosted at 31 companies, including large well-known social networking companies and small influential internet start-ups.
In addition to the mentorship experience, the emerging leaders and their mentors are participating in many events and activities designed to further their careers and promote mutual cultural understanding. The TechWomen program staff planned numerous activities ahead of time. In addition, once the emerging leaders arrived, many mentors organized more opportunities for the group, based on interests expressed by the MENA women. A few examples of activities from the last two weeks are: a training and networking reception at LinkedIn, a panel discussion on running non-profit organizations arranged by a mentor at Symantec, a Giant’s game, and shopping in the Gilroy outlets. Mentors, emerging leaders, and TechWomen staff have been on-the-go continuously since our guest arrived on September 5th. It has been energizing, inspiring, and fun!
Still ahead is the adventure of attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. All 41 visiting emerging leaders and many of the Professional and Cultural Mentors will attend GHC together next week. At the conference, all the TechWomen participants will build on what they have been learning together during their mentorships. We hope that many of you in the Anita Borg Institute community will take advantage of the opportunity to meet the women of TechWomen at the conference. The TechWomen will be easy to find. Telle Whitney, Anita Borg Institute President and CEO, will acknowledge the TechWomen during her opening remarks at the Thursday morning plenary session and the program participants will be invited to stand so you can see who they are. Also, there will be blue TechWomen tables in Hall D for the duration of the conference where you can meet up with TechWomen. Please stop by the tables any time, especially during Wednesday and Thursday dinner, to network with the TechWomen and others from their Host Companies. During lunchtime on Thursday, Taghrid Samak, one of our TechWomen mentors, will hold a meet-up at the blue TechWomen tables for “Arab Women in Computing.” If this topic interests you, please join her!
One of the intentions of the TechWomen program is for the partnerships created while the visiting emerging leaders and mentors are together in the United States to continue on long after our visitors go home to their own countries. Many of the TechWomen are joining Systers, our online community for technical women. We are grateful that the TechWomen will stay in touch with the Anita Borg Institute and we will be able to continue to work together to advance the position of women in technical fields worldwide.
The last few weeks of the TechWomen program have been an exhilarating whirlwind of creative activity. This time together is encouraging everyone involved to stretch and grow and pursue ever bigger dreams. We hope to see you at GHC so we can share our dreams with you and learn about yours.