Celebrating @TechWomen

Friday, 25 October 2013

More than 300 friends and fans of the U.S. State Department’s TechWomen program gathered at Twitter HQ this week to celebrate the community of women technical leaders from all over the globe, and to share their experiences with those hoping to learn more.

We were pleased to host the 2013 community event, which opened with a warm welcome by our CEO Dick Costolo and a short keynote by our general counsel Vijaya Gadde. A panel of emerging leaders, moderated by our editorial director Karen Wickre, shared experiences and advice with the enthusiastic audience, and afterwards everyone networked up a storm. 

This mentoring program, which was created in 2011 by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was designed to encourage girls and women in STEM career development. It brings women who are technical leaders in the Middle East and Africa to Silicon Valley for a month to work on projects and learn alongside women working in technology in the U.S. Called emerging leaders (or mentees), a group of 78 were chosen from more than 1800 applicants from 16 different countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Each emerging leader is paired with a professional mentor at a host company in the Bay Area to work on projects ranging from programming and market research to startup development. They are also paired with cultural mentors who get them acclimated to life in the U.S. and organize activities outside of work.

At Twitter, we are providing four professional and three cultural mentors this year, and we’re pleased to be hosting three emerging leaders: Diane Ukwishaka (@UKWISHAKADiane) from Rwanda, Salima Kaissi (@ksalima) from Morocco and Shaden Mar’i (@shadenmari) from Jordan.

The evening was sponsored by @WomEng, our women in engineering group. We know how powerful mentoring can be for under-represented groups. Programs like TechWomen provide women with the knowledge and connections they need, whether to start their own company, learn new skills, or take on tough challenges. We feel lucky to be involved in this rewarding experience and wonderful community of women who have so much in common but otherwise might never meet. 

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor for next year’s program, follow @TechWomen or visit techwomen.org. If you’d like to follow along with this year’s program, check out the #tw2013 hashtag.