Arab Women in Computing Conference 2017

In the Arab world that we live in today, we are all aware of and tend to refute the fact that women are viewed as unequally talented as men. Thus, when it comes to a very competitive and smart field such as the computing field, it is absurd for a woman to show interest or even portray talents regarding technology.

According to the Huffington Post, only 17% of a company's tech-jobs are held by women. A worldwide survey conducted on women from different nationalities show that the females that are actually interested in programming, robotics or anything related tend to hide their likings due to cultural stigma. If that is the case in Europe, it is obviously sort of similar in our Arab world. 

After highlighting the importance of this issue, a clinical computer science professor decided to make a change that resulted in the birth of a phenomenal community: ArabWic (Arab Women in Computing) that now has chapters in various parts of the Arab world. 

ArabWic started off as a small initiative that held local workshops encouraging females to get involved in the vast tech world. It later expanded in the following years to now holding its own international conference hosting multi-national successful women in the tech field.

 

The latest conference was held on August 10-12 at the American University of Beirut. It was one of the best conferences that I have ever experienced. The conference started off with speeches from elite speakers from very large tech corporations and institutes such as IBM, Google, the Anita Borg Institute and many more. Each speaker would tend to narrate their experience in their workplace, inform the audience up to date tech concepts and give future career guidance. Not forgetting to mention, the participants of this conference came from different areas of the world stretching from Palestine to the UK to even Japan!

Later on, the conference consisted of private lectures happening at the same time where the participant gets to choose which lecture he/she would like to attend according to their topic of preference. These lectures were of extreme importance where the participants either practiced new skills or learned about new tech concepts varying from block chains, IoT to Artificial intelligence, data science, etc.... 

The conference also offered an outstanding opportunity to its participants: one on one mentoring. Participants were given a certain amount of time to sit down and discuss their career or interests with amazing research scientists, software engineers, mobile developers coming from big tech corporations and hence profit from their assistance and supervision. The conference ended with an amazing hackathon, where refugees came along and were taught basic programming concepts by the participants themselves. Hence, this conference not only boosted the participants' tech skills and knowledge, but also aimed at improving their social, communication and mentoring skills. 

Overall, the empowerment that this conference gives to women is beyond words. Interacting and meeting with these successful women who are leading worldwide tech jobs is a marvellous experience that would make any attendee from any educational background ambitious to reach such position. 

After all, “We’ve heard a lot about the Internet of Things, I think we need an Internet of women."

 

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Yasmine Hamdar

Yasmine is an undergraduate computer science student who is passionate about research. She has worked as a research assistant with prestigious institutions like the University of Oxford and the American University of Beirut in which she heavily engaged in geographic information systems, data science and spatial statistics. Yasmine is also a creative writer and has won first place in a national competition for creative writing leading to the publication of her own short story.

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