“Mind the Gap: Encouraging women to study engineering2/02/2012 08:13:00 AM
Women make up more than half the global population, but hold fewer than a third of the world’s engineering jobs. In the U.S., female students comprise fewer than 15 percent of all Advanced Placement computer science test takers. Even in high-tech Israel, few girls choose computer science. Not only is this a loss to companies like Google and everyone who benefits from a continually developing web; its also a lost opportunity for girls.
Beginning in 2008, a group of female engineers at Google in Israel decided to tackle this problem. We established the “Mind the Gap!” program, aimed at encouraging girls to pursue math, science and technology education. In collaboration with the Israeli National Center for Computer Science Teachers, we began organizing monthly school visits for different groups of girls to the Google office and annual tech conferences at local universities and institutes. The girls learn about computer science and technology and get excited about its applications, as well as have a chance to talk with female engineers in an informal setting and see what the working environment is like for them.”
via Official Google Blog: Mind the Gap: Encouraging women to study engineering.
When Sheikha Lubna Al Qassimi stepped into a role as head of IT strategy for transport services company Dubai Ports World, she was an anomaly in many ways. She was an engineer working on a complex, technical initiative that required a great deal of interaction with the members of the C-suite; a local from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) working with a large number of expatriates; and a female executive in the male-dominated maritime industry. “I was the first senior woman coming on board, and it was a tough challenge,” she says. “I would have to explain to executives how I was going to deliver, and there was always a question: ‘How much can I rely on you?’”
Pictured above L to R: Muna AbuSulayman, Haifa Jamal AlLail, Sheikha Hanadi Al Thani
Photographer credits L to R: courtesy of Muna AbuSulayman; courtesy of Haifa Jamal AlLail; © Fadi Al-Assaad/REUTERS
To build the needed trust, she says, she learned the terminology of the maritime industry and learned how to present IT projects to senior executives in a way that showed the project’s value to the business. But ultimately, what really established her credibility was the delivery of an IT system that supported the day-to-day operation of the company’s ports. “For women to be accepted, they have to be trusted, and they have to be overachievers,” she says. “The bottom line is whether you can deliver dollars — or dirhams. You have to prove that it doesn’t matter, gender-wise, who sits there.”
Now the minister of foreign trade for the UAE and the most powerful woman in the Arab world, according to the Forbes 2010 list of the world’s 100 most powerful women, Al Qassimi is no longer an anomaly. She is one of a small but significant group of women who are defying expectations and making a difference in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
via The Future of Women Leaders in the Middle East.