I was recently invited to be on the Selection Committee for the TechWomen Program, and completed the review process with my fellow committee members on Thursday. For those not familiar with TechWomen, it is a mentoring and exchange program funded by the U.S. Department of State. For this first instance of the program, 38 technical women from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and the West Bank and Gaza will come to Silicon Valley for five weeks. During their visit, they’ll work hands on at various high tech companies, meet with business leaders and network with one another to discuss how they can bring the lessons they learn during their time in the Valley back to their home countries. I served on the Selection Committee for the West Bank and Gaza.
I can’t talk much about the candidates or the selection process due to the need for confidentiality, but I will say that it was an incredible experience for me. Seeing the many accomplishments of these individuals was inspiring in itself, but particularly so when considering how constrained women’s roles are in this region. Many of the letters of recommendation I reviewed pointed to this fact when noting the extraordinary achievements of the candidates in the face of these difficulties, and I feel honored to have played some small part in helping these women gain more experience that will further their positions as leaders in their communities.
I’m looking forward to seeing the final list of candidates selected for the program, and even moreso to meeting some ‘graduates’ of the TechWomen program at this year’s Grace Hopper Conference.