By Madhavi Bhasin
“Change occurs after people take action, and action occurs when people are inspired.” – Trish Tierney, Director, Institute of International Education’s Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives
With the goal of inspiring action and change, Women Enhancing Technology (WeTech) program was inaugurated in India on February 8, 2014. WeTech is a program helping more women and girls enter into, and succeed in, careers and education in tech. Launched last fall at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, this program is led by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and carried out with a consortium that includes Goldman Sachs, Google and Qualcomm Incorporated.
The WeTech Inauguration Day also served as a Technovation Hack Day, during which students, mentors, and teachers came together to kick-off the Technovation Challenge for 12 teams from high schools across Bangalore, India. Goldman Sachs hosted the event at its Bangalore office, providing an opportunity for 60 girls to meet the women from Goldman Sachs and Qualcomm who are volunteering their time and expertise and with whom they will work over the next two months.
The event opened with the ceremonial lighting of the lamp followed by panel discussion on the importance of inspiring girls to consider tech careers. The panel featured senior executives from Goldman Sachs and Qualcomm. During the Technovation Challenge introduction session, the girls participated in a hands-on demo of the App Inventor platform. Teams had the opportunity to meet and interact with their mentors during the team building and networking sessions.
Each team of girls is currently working, with a mentor from Goldman Sachs or Qualcomm, to identify a problem in their community and design a mobile app to address the issue. During the month of April, the teams will submit their app ideas and pitch to compete with girls from more than thirty countries around the world in the Technovation Global Challenge.
In the next few weeks, WeTech will organize tech talks for the teams to inspire them further and offer networking opportunities. The teams were excited to meet with Anuranjita Tewary, founder of Technovation and attend Women’s Day celebrations at the Intuit office in Bangalore in March. A regional pitch event, planned for May 2014, will showcase the app ideas from the WeTech Technovation Teams.
A recent article highlighted that women in India are still missing from the forefront of the tech sector. WeTech aims to address this challenge and expand opportunities for young girls and women to consider and excel in technology careers. In addition to the Technovation Challenge offered to high school girls, WeTech has launched a virtual mentoring program for female students enrolled in universities across India. The mentoring program connects leaders from Goldman Sachs and Qualcomm with female students as they transition from their university studies into the workforce. The WeTech mentoring program provides a channel for women to support, connect and inspire each other within and across generations, borders and cultures.
Through Technovation and virtual mentoring, WeTech aims to help build the pipeline of girls entering in to tech in Africa, India and the United States.