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
- 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
- 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