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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Women and girls love technology too

A growing number of organizations are created to nurture the interest of women and girls for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies and/or careers. Despite the efforts, women and girls still face challenges that keep them from considering these fields of study.

Dr.Anita Borg, Computer Scientist
Women Technology's Program (WTP) whose goal is to spark high school's interest in the future study of engineering and computer science. Similarly, The Women in Technology project claims to be the first . american workforce development project of its kind to encourage girls, women and underrepresented groups into engineering and math (STEM) education and careers.




The Anita Borg Institute seeks to increase the impact of women on all aspects of technology, and increase the positive impact of technology on the world's women. Girls in Tech (GIT) is an organization focused on women's innovative and entrepreneurial achievement in technology.Clearly, some women and girls love technology and they want to learn more about it. But what can families, societies, the private sector and governments do to assist them better?

Last June 2013, Google has recognized 84 recipients and finalists of the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship and Google Scholarship for Students with Disabilities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The selected scholars were pursuing degrees in Computer Science or related fields in their respective countries. 

The Google Anita Borg Memory Scholarship was established in honor of the late Dr.Anita Borg. Defined as a 'technology rebel' by Google, Dr.Borg has left a legacy through the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. However, this computer scientist who founded Systers, the first online and the world's largest community  for women in computing, had to rise above personal challenges. 

Dr.Borg loved math as a child, Daniel Zeevi from Dashburst wrote.Unfortunately, she did not have the opportunity to learn computer science at the university level. Leaving excuses out of the pictures, she taught herself how to program while working at an insurance company.

Sadly to say, the challenges that Dr.Borg faced decades ago are still very present in the lives of millions of women and girls, particularly in the continent of Africa. Senegalese-Born Mariéme Jamme explains in a recent opinion piece published on the CNN 'MarketPlace Africa' how technology can transform the lives of African women. Jamme is an African technology blogger, coordinator of Apps4Africa and co-founder of Africa Gathering
Women hold the key to Africa's development, from agriculture to technology and entrepreneurship. But they still face massive hurdles in many areas of development and they are still financially disadvantaged and lack of confidence in starting up businesses in Africa.
She continues by stating that NGOs and global development organizations need to stop overlooking African women by using them as  objects of developments and statistics. She also pointed out that the international media needs to start giving the spotlight to 'ordinary' women whose work is as much valuable that the daughter of the leader of Angola or an elite Oxford/Harvard graduate.

Women and girls love technology too. Like the female recipients of the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship, millions of them are thirsty for opportunity that will assist them into making their dream of having a STEM career a reality.



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