Arab Women Techies

Despite the high percentage of women who work in the field of ICTs in Arab countries and particularly Egypt, Arab Techies has been facing problems in finding Arab women techies to participate in either of the events we organized (Arab Techies Gathering 2008 (6 women out of 30), Code Sprint 2009 (2 out of 16)), a point that has been raised in evaluating both events.

Starting to perform my tasks as the community coordinator, I wanted to work on improving this balance in our young community. I approached some women who work in ICTs and are active in other communities, not necessarily technical, to set up a meeting, discuss this issue with them and see if we can contribute to solving it.

We held a meeting in mid May and the attendants were:
  • Manal Hassan: Arab Techies community coordinator
  • Zeinab Samir: Web designer and developer, Blogger and Arab Techies member
  • Shahinaz Abd ElSalam: Engineer @ Orange, Human Rights activist and Blogger
  • Eman Mostafa: Developer and software testing team leader @ ITWorx, and Blogger
  • Eman Abd ElRahman: Engineer @ Orange, Blogger and Leader of the Kolena Laila online campaign
  • Alaa Abd ElFattah: Arab Techies co-founder
  • Ahmed El Ezabi: EGLUG
The first thing we start discussing was why women techies dont participate in technical communities although they are active in other communities, here are some answers to that:
  • Women switch off their technical side after office hours
  • Male geeks are not very friendly to women participation in technical communities
  • Women prefer to participate in activities which have clear benefits, for example they would prefer working with children to lurking in technical forums and mailing lists
We started looking at why we had very low women participation in the previous Arab Techies events:
  • The level of technicality of the participants that we were looking for/communicated in our invitation was too high, and women are not assertive. Women play it down when it comes to their skills and experience compared to men.
  • We were searching for participants who had previous contributions, not those who are willing to contribute or planning to (although Arab Techies want to create this space were people learn about other projects in the Arab World, contribute to it or try to realise it in their own context)
  • In both events, each confirmed participant was asked to recommend other people for Arab Techies to invite. People dont recommend women by default, they have to be asked explicitly.

Few of us shared their experiences in participating in women only events, how such an experience was very empowering and inspiring and how these events were a comfortable environment for women to show their skills or ask for help in learning something. From there we started discussing on the validity and benefits of holding an Arab Women Techies event.

We thought that event should lower the boundary for women to participate (i.e participants need not be geeks), should include some mini workshops were each participant can have the opportunity to share/teach, and learn something, and include some talks from successful women in that field.

Actions to be taken:
  • Draft a concept note (done)
  • Start approaching potential partners
  • Setup a platform for organizing the event
  • Finalise concept note
  • Approach funders
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suggested profile for potential women participants

Hi Manal,

This is very exciting indeed! Question: Have you formulated yet more details on suggested/proposed profile of potential women participants being sought out? "Need not be geeks but have background/experience/interest in ...." . I feel this may help identify potential participants. It can also help those who have a network and want to spread the news out to identify potential participants and address them directly.

Also, what kind of action can the Arab Digital Expression Foundation and its network do on the ground to contribute to reach your goals (apart from the absolute intellectual/moral support and belief and the fact that Arab Techies founders are also ADEF stakeholders, that is!).

And, is the draft concept note available?

Amazing work guys!
Ranwa

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Manal Hassan's picture

re: profile I think anyone

  • re: profile

I think anyone who is interested in technology beyond it being their job or study, well defined and well written criteria is something we need to draft, your help in this discussion is most welcomed.

  • re: what ADEF can do

ADEF can definitely do a lot of things, connect with its network of Arabs working with digital art, techies who are supporting them or supporting your partners, with funders. By becoming active members in Arab Techies (1st step registration on the website, this way your comments wont need moderator approval :-P) and participating in discussions, planning, activities, etc.

  • re: concept note

Will be available soon. If you are interested in the preparation details, I can add you to our platform for organizing this event :)

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لماذا لا تكتبون كل المقالات

لماذا لا تكتبون كل المقالات بالعربية؟
مع احترامى الكامل لمجهودكم، هذا تناقض غريب

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