Held on the campus of King Khalid University (KKU) on January 27th, the Women in Technology forum gathered thought leaders from across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to share insights on issues of advancing the role of women in computing and explore how women in technology provide a proven competitive advantage in our local context in both academia and industry. Led by the coordinated efforts of Ashwag Alasmari (ArabWIC’s Saudi Chapter VP), and Asma Aladrees (ArabWIC’s Saudi Chapter Secretary) the forum hosted three panelists from ArabWIC’s Saudi Arabia chapter.
The opening keynote was delivered by the Vice Dean of the College of Computing at KKU, Dr. Areej Al-Asiri. During the event, a series of talks profiled and showcased some amazing women currently making their mark on the local tech community in Saudi Arabia.
Speakers included ArabWIC’s Vice President for the Saudi Chapter, Ashwag Alasmari (a lecturer at KKU and a PhD student at the University of Maryland), and President of the Saudi Chapter, Dr. Areej Al-Wabil, and Dr. Salha Alzahrani (the Vice Dean of the College of Computing at Taif University and a member in the local Saud advisory board for ArabWIC’s Saudi chapter). Ashwag presented on her experience at the 2015 Grace Hopper Conference and her involvement in ArabWIC and its role in advancing the careers of women in technology. Dr. Areej reflected on her 20 years of experience working with dynamic research teams to rapidly explore and build scalable and useable technology solutions for real world problems at the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at King Saud University and the Center for Complex Engineering at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. Dr. Salha shared her experience with Big Data analytics with the audience.
From software engineering to technical project management to user experience design, forum speakers emphasized how a career in technology offers a diverse range of roles and domains for women in Saudi Arabia. These trailblazing women in tech shared their stories and experiences from different fields within the computing domains in Saudi Arabia. Afterwards, the organizers opened up the floor for a Q&A session with KKU students and faculty of the College of Computer Science at KKU. Attendees had the opportunity to connect with others interested in information technology, software engineering, information systems and computer science.
Following that, student projects were showcased in the exhibit of the forum, and students presented their capstone projects and ongoing research projects to the president of the ArabWIC Saudi chapter, Dr. Areej Al-Wabil who was accompanied by the Vice Dean, Dr. Al-Asiri in their rounds in the exhibit. The exhibit showcased impressive work conducted by female students at KKU who were involved in the ideation, design and implementation of the applied computing project as part of their capstone requirements; and the forum provided them with the opportunity to present the final outcome of their work to panelists in the forum, faculty in the college as well as their peers in the university.
The presentations for the forum speaker are available online via the link for Dr. Areej’s talk on Prototyping and Complex Systems Engineering, Dr. Salha’s talk on Big Data, and Ashwag’s talk on ArabWIC.