ArabWIC Qatar interviewed by Al-Rayyan TV

Meet our leaders Maryam El-Hamadi and Sara Al-Mohannadi talking about ArabWIC Qatar, highlighting our recent events.

Participation at GDG DevFests Part 1

GDG DevFests are the biggest Google related events organized  by GDG community. They are planned and coordinated independently in each local all over the world. The content and the design of each GDG event is unique and so was the GDG Bizerte event held this year on the 26th of October in ISET Bizerte, Tunisia .

This global event, in its 4th edition, was organized by GDG Bizerte and Women Techmakers Bizerte in partnership with ArabWIC Tunisia and ISET Bizerte IT Club.

ArabWIC Tunisia GDG DevFest Bizerte

Hosted by Boudour AYACHI, Women Techmakers Bizerte leader, Google Developer Group Bizerte manager and press coordinator in ArabWIC Tunisia, the event was filled with brilliant speakers and mind-blowing conversations about the latest technologies. We had the honor to have Alaedin ZIDI who talked about Google Firebase Platform, a mobile plateform that helps developers build high quality apps, grow user base and earn more money. In addition, we had a session « Developing Android App for Billion » led by Farouk TOUZI to speak about tools and infrastructure needed to build better apps and grow a successful business.
The serie of sessions continued with Youssef TRABELSI who introduced the design language developed by Google, Google Material Design, used for Android devices. And the last session « Google Analytics vs Firebase Analytics » was discussed by Hatem BEN YOUSSEF. He explained how users anticipate in order to get a consistent user experience.

ArabWIC Tunisia GDG DevFest Bizerte ArabWIC Tunisia GDG DevFest Bizerte

Outside conference room, ArabWIC Tunisia was present. We ran a stand information in order to introduce our organisation, its main goals and activities. Amazingly, we had a very positive response from people; more than 50 were motivated and submitted their application to join our organisation.

Back inside, in the talk panel, we had the intervention of our dearest Afef GAFSI, ambassador of ArabWIC Tunisia in ISET Bizerte and Hala MEDIOUNI, our ambassador in Faculty of Sciences Bizerte. They discussed the lack of women in technology & entrepreneurship and how working collectively and commitment improve women’s participation in tech industry.

ArabWIC Tunisia GDG DevFest Bizerte ArabWIC Tunisia GDG DevFest Bizerte

The GDG DevFest event continued till evening where we had two workshops. The first one was with Alaeddine ZIDI,  about Google Firebase Plateform (CodLab). It aimed to develop an android group chat application using Firebase realTime Database.
As for the second workshop « Android developer’s performance and security toolbox », it was led by Taha HISHRI. During which, participants discovered some tools for apps performance monitoring, like debugging and protection against reverse engineering.
More than 300 attendees took part in GDG DevFest Bizerte event : 10% professionals, 80% students. Most of them were female participants 70%.

ArabWIC Tunisia GDG DevFest Bizerte ArabWIC Tunisia GDG DevFest Bizerte ArabWIC Tunisia GDG DevFest Bizerte

The media coverage of the event was huge. We had press like thd (https://goo.gl/CWlHcV), Press ISETBizerte Club, Local Media in Bizerte and even live brodcasting on facebook. You can find links below. The event was trending on twitter with Hashtag : #GDG #GDGBizerte #DevFest16 #Womentechmakers #WTMBizerte

To know more about the event you can visit and watch thses videos :

Motivation and positive response from participants prompt us to do better and better each time. Dear followers, stay tuned and wait for new upcoming events.
Our next stop will be in Monastir, with another GDG DevFest. If you are near make sure to attend this event in order to meet our ambassadors and speakers or you can follow us on social media.

2015 – 2016 : Big start, promising first steps

2015 was a year of hard work and ambitions, a year of achievements and extreme potentials for ArabWIC Tunisia chapter. We are glad to share with you, dear readers, our experience and highlight some of the events achieved this year.

Women Hack Day

ArabWIC Tunisia Women Hack Day

The beginning of our journey was with Women Hack Day event. It took place in INSAT University on the 28th of November 2015 to honor and praise women in technology. It was a collaboration with Access Now, Netlinks Club, and Women Who Code. The event gathered about 50 women from different fields: software developers, policy makers, and advocates in order to discuss emerging  trends in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

In the talk panel, we hosted many speakers, mainly active women in computing. We were delighted by the presence of Dorra Mlouhi and Amira Cheniour representative of ArabWIC, Miriam Dahmoun (Focus International), Alia Mahmoud (Microsoft), Abir Ibrahem (Access Now), Seynabou Dia (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) who spoke about the impact of women in computing.

ArabWIC Tunisia Women Hack Day

In addition, Women Hack Day event included a four-hour contest. 15 participants, from different universities, competed in a programming challenge hosted by Hackerrank website. It was the very first initiative in Tunisia where girls competed against each other. The challenge was really exciting and competitive. The first price went to Mouna Tayehi, an exceptional student from the National School of computer science of Tunisia (ENSI), who won a fully funded trip to RightsCon Silicon Valley 2016 in San Francisco as a reward.

She Startup

ArabWIC Tunisia participated in She startup with Salma Saidi as a Mentor. It was a boot camp project that engaged 20 women with no prior experience in leadership or social entrepreneurship from the 24th of December to the 26th of December 2015 in Machmoum hotel in Hammamet. The project was initiated by Young Leaders Entrepreneurs in partnership with MEPI ALUMNI CHAPTER.

ArabWIC Tunisia She Startup

The participants were mentored by well-known and successful tunisian entrepreneurs. On the first day of the boot camp, the female participants were taught about leadership skills, communication and pitching techniques. The second day was a little bit intensive, it was about social entrepreneurship, gender issue, project cycle and management. The participants were divided in 4 teams, 5 women each, to create projects to be pitched after 13 hours and 8 minutes (referring to the National Women’s day in Tunisia on the 13th of August ). The selection of the best project was based on finding the one that can generate revenues and have a social impact on gender based issues such as women education, girls education in rural areas, economic empowerment and domestic violence… The final day was the ceremony closure and the delivery of certificates and awards. Our representative Salma Saidi won the best mentor prize with her winning team.

ArabWIC Tunisia She Startup ArabWIC Tunisia She Startup

GDG DevFest Bizerte 2016

ArabWIC Tunisia GDG devfest bizerte

ArabWIC Tunisia GDG devfest bizerte ArabWIC Tunisia GDG devfest bizerte

ArabWIC Tunisia was a partner , on the 6th of February, with GDG Bizerte and Women Techmakers Bizerte, Women Who Code Tunisia and FPT informatique in organizing GDG DevFest Bizerte. With more than 100 attendees, the event was held in the University of Science of Bizerte. During the day, we introduced new and popular technologies such as Angular JS, Python, Virtual reality: GoogleCardborad. We took a glimpse at defensive security and Google Cloud platform. The event included challenges and opportunities for students. In addition, we had the interventions of special speakers:  women engineers, GDG Leads, GSA and students. They were there to share with us their positive vibes, knowledge and experiences. It was a great opportunity to motivate students improving their skills and bringing the best of them.

IBeDroid Challenge

On the 9th of April, ArabWIC Tunisia, in collaboration with Women Techmakers Bizerte, GDG Bizerte and ISET Bizerte, was a part of the International Women’s Day in Bizerte, a day dedicated to working women in computing, female students and teachers. It was under the  IBeDroidchallenge.

During this event, we organized a set of workshops about Android Technologies, networking, IT opportunities for women. We encouraged professional women to talk about their experiences, how to balance between their professional/personal life and the difficulties faced in work.

1300 participants attended the three-day IBeDroid challenge : 70% students, 20% teachers and 10% professionals.

ArabWIC Tunisia Ibedroid Challenge ArabWIC Tunisia Ibedroid Challenge

ArabWIC

This was a brief summary about the activities of ArabWIC Tunisia chapter in 2016 to keep you, dear readers, updated. Wait for more news about us and upcoming events very soon. Hopefully you are motivated to join us in our journey, we are waiting for you all.

Busy Year, Exciting Events and News!

2016 has been a rewarding year for the Saudi chapter in ArabWIC. We are excited to share with our blog readers some exciting events that the team has been busy planning for. As all women in the field realize how it is very important to represent and participate with each other all around the world, this year the Saudi chapter is going international!

The end of September the ArabWiC Saudi chapter participated in the ACM Celebration Event at the Rocky Mountain Celebration of Women in Computing in Salt Lake City, Utah http://rmcwic.org/. On behalf of the team, Asma Aljuhani presented the Saudi chapter and important statistics of the field, specifically the contribution of women in tech in the region. Great job Asma!

Another exciting upcoming event is, Grace Hopper http://ghc.anitaborg.org ! The biggest event for celebrating women in computing, and this year ArabWIC is going big! The Saudi chapter is contributing with 3 participations.  Dr.Amana Alshawi from KACST is presenting her work in Organizational Transformation: Leading Change to Increase Women’s Inclusion in Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. In addition to that, she is also chairing 2 sessions. Dr.Areej Awabil is  also charing two sessions in the HCI Track: 1- Creating Natural User Interactions (Microsoft) and 2- The HCI track session.

In addition to contributing to the knowledge at the event, the Saudi chapter encouraged aspiring members to attend and participate. The chapter leadership sought funding for all chapter leaders and whomever reached out to the chapter from Saudi students studying in the USA. We were successful in securing funding for our chapter leadership and in guiding students to funding opportunities abroad. We also encouraged ArabWIC community members to submit proposals for talks, panels and workshops. Not all applications were accepted but it was a learning experience for our members.

Those two events were in the pipeline and brewing and we wanted to share what exciting stuff been going on to keep all of our readers updated! We hope to see some of you there at the upcoming events!

Train-the-Trainers Arduino Workshop at Princess Noura University

Train the Trainer workshops are designed to provide instructors with the techniques to deliver engaging professional or technical training. The Saudi Arabian ArabWIC chapter recently partnered with the Software and Knowledge Engineering Research Group (SKERG) in delivering a series of Arduino Training workshops for female students in the field of physical computing, an area of applied research that is in great demand in our local research labs (particularly labs involved in ubiquitous computing research), but is not currently offered for female students in the existing academic programs in the central region within the Kingdom.

The workshop was led by Arwa Alabdulkarim, an ArabWIC Saudi Chapter member and researcher in King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology’s Electronics and Photonics Research Labs. The “Train-the-Trainers” workshop was held on the campus of Princess Noura University (PNU) on May 23, 2016.

A total 25 participants took part in the full-day 6-hour workshop. They were trained on the technical background and skills needed for delivering an Arduino training session, and briefed on the curricula requirements for such training programs at different skill levels.

Arduino_TrainTheTrainers_23May2016In this session, workshop moderators prepared new trainers with critical training skills and introduced seasoned Arduino designers, sketchers and practitioners to the latest techniques for introducing physical computing concepts to students and hobbyists in the Arduino Makers communities. Participants started with an introductory session on the Arduino IDE, and then moved to activities that involved assembling and controlling their own circuits. In the session, they had the chance to assemble then reassemble their circuits, to gradually develop an understanding of how to explain the concept for participants with varying technical knowledge in their own Arduino workshops. The program was comprised of 4-6 different lab sessions designed to facilitate exploratory activities for participants to understand Arduino’s potential in different areas of applications.

ArabWIC Participates in Riyadh’s “Teen Spirit” Summer Camp at Prince Sultan University

The Saudi Arabian chapter of ArabWIC partnered with a local university in Riyadh, Prince Sultan University (PSU) for their annual summer program for teenage girls, titled “Teen Spirit”. The summer camp aims to provide youth – ages 13 to 16 years – with a vibrant program promoting creativity, innovation and provide girls with an opportunity to experience the fascinating world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The chapter’s mentoring coordinator, Aseel Alhadlaq collaborated with local ArabWIC chapter members and established a team for designing and delivering interactive sessions on computing and robotics. Held  on the campus of Prince Sultan University’s colleges for women in Riyadh, Teen Spirit was conducted in the May 28 – June 6, 2016 time frame.

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The ArabWIC team presented a robotics and arduino hands-on session. In this session, Arwa Alabdulkarim, Wafa Alrajhi, Heila Almazrou, Zahraa Alkhormi and Aseel Alhadlaq moderated the session and showcased several robotic creations that were designed and developed in the @HCI_Lab at KSU’s female section of the College of Computer and Information Sciences. Teens started out by learning the basics of assembling circuits, prototyping, design and programming, and then moved on to tinkering with arduino kits provided in collaboration with our partner lab at the Software and Knowledge Engineering Research Group (SKERG) at King Saud University.

Robotics in PSU's "Teen Spirit" Summer Camp in Riyadh

For girls new to computing and STEM, this summer program provided a fun way to explore unfamiliar subjects, and the opportunity for potentially discovering new areas of interest. For girls already interested in STEM, they described enthusiastically how these summer camp sessions built on existing interests or knowledge and sparked interest in pursuing them further. Dr. Areej Al-Wabil, the president of ArabWIC’s Saudi Arabian chapter, highlighted the chapter’s involvement in the Teen Spirit summer camp in 2016 and its role in inspiring the next generation of future women technologists; “We want the camp participants to see the creativity and purpose in computer science – something that’s exciting, fun, and accessible – something they can take with them.” The mentoring coordinator for the Saudi Arabian chapter, Aseel Alhadlaq shared her experience in a recent blog post at the eMentoring website and emphasized the impact of these sessions on the participants in expanding the horizons of teens through hands-on activities.

Experiences such as these effectively encourage and inspire the next generation of women in technology and female STEM professionals, and for that our ArabWIC Saudi chapter acknowledges the generous support of Prince Sultan University’s Center for Community Service and Continuing Education (CCI) and the female section of the Software Engineering Department and members of the HCI Lab and SKERG research group at King Saud University.

ArabWIC Saudi Arabia Chapter Partners with the Saudi Council of Engineers

On the Ramadan evening of June 25, two hundred female Saudi engineers from a wide spectrum of engineering and applied disciplines (computing, engineering and architecture) gathered at the headquarters of the Saudi Council of Engineers in Jeddah for the inaugural event of the Saudi Women in Engineering forum. The event was organized as a traditional Sohour gathering in the holy month of Ramadan, and highlighted the recently established partnership between the Arab Women in Computing ArabWIC local Saudi Chapter and the Saudi Council of Engineers’ committee for Women in Engineering (لجنة المهندسات).

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The participation of our ArabWIC chapter was led by the collaborative efforts of the Saudi Chapter’s ambassador for the Western region of Saudi Arabia, Engineer Samar Abdulate (a recent graduate of Effat University in Jeddah, and currently a graduate student at George Washington University), and the Saudi Council of Engineers (SCE) Women in Engineering elected member in the Western region, Sarah Alharthy.

ArabWIC_SCE_AdvertSpeaking in the event, Dr. Areej Al-Wabil emphasized the need for establishing synergy between professional communities in the Kingdom that aim to support, inspire, retain, encourage collaboration among, increase visibility of and help women in computing and engineering domains advance in their careers.

The event, held at the Saudi Council of Engineers’ headquarters in Jeddah, was hosted and organized by the Saudi Council’s Women in Engineering Committee and was conducted in partnership with two scientific societies, IEEE’s Women in Engineering and ArabWIC’s Saudi Arabian chapter.

Organizers moderated a vibrant program of speakers, from the local and regional communities of professional women in engineering domains, to highlight contributions of women in their professions, raise awareness among female engineers about the roles and responsibilities of the newly established committee for women in the Saudi Council of Engineers, and to learn more about the professional and scientific communities in the different regions of the Kingdom that are dedicated to advancing the role of Women in STEM.

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SCE’s Women in Engineering committee aims to increase the participation and contribution of women on all aspects of engineering and technology. SCE offers various programs designed to help industry, academia and government develop engineering professionals and leaders in their domains. ArabWIC together with SCE’s committee for women and IEEE’s Women in Engineering chapters collectively aim to raise the level of recognition and networking opportunities for women through activities, such as the inaugural event held on Jun 25 and future networking events that span the wide spectrum of regions via SCE Chapters and ArabWIC affiliates in the Kingdom. ArabWIC_SCE_Sarah

The event helped to foster communication and establish communities -both online and offline- for women to connect and share various topics of interest, and affiliate with various organizations that are aligned with providing support and services to women in engineering domains in industry, academia and public sectors.

Engineering and computing define our modern world and they will continue to reshape every part of our future. Our ArabWIC team extend their appreciation to SCE’s Women in Engineering committee for the wonderful initiative, and their generous support for advancing the role of women in engineering and computing domains.

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ArabWIC Partners with KACST in the Genuino Day Event in Saudi Arabia

The ArabWIC Saudi chapter partnered with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in organizing the Genuino Day 2016 event on April 2nd, 2016. Genuino Day is an international event celebrating Arduino/Genuino Day worldwide, bringing together people and projects interested and related to Genuino. This year, official Arduino celebrations and their local communities’ events reached 331 events that were held in 68 different countries around the globe. These arduino events gather people from the makers communities, students, experts  and those who are interested in physical computing and STEM from all ages, backgrounds and specialties to share their experience via talks, workshops, demos, and demonstrations of Genuino projects.

GenuinoDayThe event was held at KACST’s conference center in Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. The event’s website was established to promote the event in the country and for managing registration. This event was dedicated for women, and the targeted audience were faculty members, researchers, students in pre-university, collegiate and postgraduate programs in addition to anyone interested in technology and engineering from the local female community.

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The number of attendees in this event was around 200 female participants. In the keynote sessions, three ArabWIC leaders from the Saudi Arabia Chapter presented on key topics for the Genuino Day event. The Saudi Arabia ArabWIC Chapter president, Dr. Areej Al-Wabil presented on Scalable Innovation and Technology for Social Good. Dr. Amany Alshawi, presented on ArabWIC’s mission and vision and shared an overview of the progress and achievements of the Saudi chapter in the 2016-2017 timeframe. Dr. Sarah Alhumoud presented an inspiring journey describing the triumphs and challenges she faced in her impressive career in computing from her early days as a student in the Information Technology program at King Saud University, to her leadership roles as the Vice Dean of IT in Imam University and Ibn Khaldun Research Fellow at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAIL) labs. Our ArabWIC mentoring coordinator, Aseel Alhadlaq also presented a talk on the eMentoring initiative that is being rolled out in collaboration with the ArabWIC Saudi Arabian chapter.

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In addition, the event hosted six parallel workshops aligned with three domains: Electronics, Prototyping and Marketing. Three of these workshops were presented by ArabWIC members from the Saudi Arabian chapter and from industry and different research centers at KACST. ArabWIC member, Jumana Almahmoud moderated a workshop on UX Design. ArabWIC member and KACST Research Associate, Samar Alqatari (a recent graduate of Stanford’s Mechanical Engineering program and currently a PhD student enrolled at the University of Chicago studying Computational Physics) presented a workshop on Visual thinking and the Design Process. ArabWIC’s Arwa Alabdulkarim (research at KACST’s Electronics and Photonics Research Lab), also presented a workshop on Sketching with Arduino in which participants learned the basics of building circuits and open source programming with Arduino.

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Genuino2016The Genuino Day 2016 event hosted two exhibitions; the main exhibit was for the event’s partners who participated with talks, workshops, and sponsoring the awards for the projects’ competition winners. The event partners were: Badir Program for Technology Incubators, Dell, Intel, IBTKR Electronics, Rays Co., Arab Women in Computing’s chapter (ArabWIC Saudi Arabia), IEEE’s Women in Engineering WIE–IEEE Saudi Arabia Section. At the partners’ exhibition, visitors had the opportunity to network and learn more about the programs and initiatives offered by these communities for Women in Tech in our local context of Saudi Arabia.

The second exhibition was dedicated for interactive demos and student projects which involved students participating from King Saud University (KSU), Prince Sultan University (PSU), and Princess Noura University (PNU). In this exhibit, students had the opportunity to showcase their projects to visitors and share experiences with the maker communities. ArabWIC’s Saudi chapter was also involved in the Judging Panel for the awards. The creations ranged from creative minimalist designs to complex ubiquitous computing systems that were developed by female students as postgraduate course or dissertation projects in local universities. These include interactive household objects, brain-controlled wheelchairs, threaded sensors in clothing for pollution sensing, and assistive technologies for the visually impaired. Videos showcasing some projects  (Amal Alkhathlan, Mawada Alsabban) demonstrate the intricate details of the design process and contributions towards developing open source solutions for real world problems. The vibrant exhibit attracted many visitors who were actively engaged in tinkering, exploring, and learning more about physical computing, its applied domains and the enthusiastic communities of interest that have emerged in our local Saudi sphere.

GenuinoDay_WIEThe event was recently featured in IEEE’s Women in Engineering newsletter in an article published July 2016. You can tap into our #ArabWIC coverage of the event and the participants’ social conversation by checking out the #يوم_الجنيوينو hashtag and our partners @Makers_SA community, or by visiting the event’s web page at KACST.

ArabWIC Saudi Arabia Chapter Participates in the Women in Technology event at King Khalid University in Abha

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.

CZtNbIzWYAAr7VSSpeakers 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.

ArabWIC Saudi Arabia Chapter Hosts a Webinar for Graduate Students

Technology-intensive fields, such as high tech, oil, and energy, have grown rapidly in the 21st century in Saudi Arabia, far outstripping other industries. It’s no secret that women in tech roles in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and math — face significant challenges in local, regional and global contexts. Research shows that women leave the technology field at twice the rate as men. Although these are sobering numbers, and the complexity of the problem has numerous dimensions, we know that there ARE successful women leaders in tech who have overcome these statistics and gone on to higher levels of success, without derailing their careers or opting out.

What can be learned from their experiences? The Saudi chapter of ArabWIC sought answers to this recurring question by organizing a webinar in 2016 dedicated to the topic of surviving graduate studies for women in technology fields. The webinar was held on May 25, 2016 and moderated by Asma Aljuhani, our Saudi Chapter Webinar Coordinator, and Aseel Alhadlaq, our Saudi Chapter Mentoring Coordinator, and Nour Alkhalil, our Saudi Chapter’s website Coordinator.

pasted image 66Panelists in the webinar were from different computing backgrounds and were enrolled in graduate programs across the spectrum of theoretical and applied computing. Three participants were members of the Software and Knowledge Engineering Research Group (SKERG) and Human-Computer Interaction @HCI_Lab in King Saud University, a multidisciplinary research lab in the capital city of Riyadh and a leading HCI research center in the region. SKERG members included Najwa Alghamdi, Lecturer in King Saud University and PhD student at Sheffield University in the UK; Weaam Alrashed, TA in the Software Engineering Department of King Saud University and MSc student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada; and Dr. Sharifa Alghowinem, Assistant Professor at Prince Sultan University and Alumnus of Australia National University. Georgia Tech’s PhD student, Huda Alamri also joined the panel and shared insights from her journey in graduate studies. It was interesting to note from the webinar’s discussion and journeys of our panelists that in true moments in which some female CS Postgrad students felt overwhelmed or wanted to quit, what would have helped them more than anything was to see other women in the rooms, classes and labs they were in.. other women who were making it work. Driven by a desire to contribute towards building a community of women mentoring women, and motivated by a desire to help other women advance in the field of computing, our webinar’s women panelists shared authentic experiences and took the time to reach out and engage with the communities of women in tech and reflect on their issues.

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Webinar moderators conducted an in-session poll to better understand the audience’s background and align it with the ongoing discussion and topics in the conversation. The polls showed that the largest group of the attendees was MSc students enrolled in computing programs, followed by the Bachelor degree students, then the group of PhD students. Although this webinar was targeting graduate students, undergraduate students indicated that their participation contributed towards feeling motivated and inspired to pursue further studies in the field simply from observing the flow of dialog in the webinar and topics being discussed. On another poll, responses indicated that this webinar’s audience was mostly studying or interested to study in the United States followed by an interest to study -or currently studying – in the United Kingdom. Therefore, webinar moderators along with the panelists elaborated on their educational experience in these countries.

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Webinar moderators and panelists interacted with the audience with insights and authentic experiences that resonated well, not only with webinar participants but with a broader audience of women in tech, and this consequently helped build closer connections between Saudi women studying abroad in disparate fields within the domain of computing. Notably, aligned with recently introduced scholarship programs in the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia ranks 4th in the international student body in US public and private higher education institutions (preceded only by China, India and South Korea) with approximately 60,000 students in the US. Thus the issues, challenges, and opportunities for female Saudi postgraduate students and early career researchers was a timely topic for discussion and sparked the interest of our Women in Tech community in Saudi Arabia to carry on the discussion along those lines in future webinars.

The webinar is available at ArabWIC’s YouTube channel via this link.