We recognize women in technology are often underrepresented, sidelined and subject to subtle biases. One way that we aim to change the imbalance is by supporting technical women inside and outside of ThoughtWorks by taking part in education and mentoring programs.
As part of this initiative I recently took part in the TechWomen program. TechWomen is a five-week program that pairs women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from Africa and the Middle East with counterparts in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. During the program, participants work at leading STEM companies, participate in professional development workshops, networking events, and travel to Washington, D.C. for targeted special events.
This year I paired with Rita Abdallah, a project manager and software developer from Lebanon, who wanted her placement to strengthen her business acumen and product management skills in order to support her ambition of having her own company one day.
[Opening Ceremony - Rita is on the far left.]
Before Rita headed off to Washington DC from our San Francisco office to conclude the program, I caught up with her to understand more about the program from her perspective and what influence it had had on her.
Suzie Prince: Why did you join the TechWomen program?
Rita Abdallah: In my career, I aim to reach the best outcome in everything I am involved with. Through TechWomen, I believed I could enrich my technical skills, which is a solid factor for being an excellent leader and role model. I also want to nurture my skills with the right guidance and techniques to help me achieve my future goals.
SP: What has been your biggest learning during the TechWomen program?
RA: I learned how to create innovative ideas and products. I also learned and developed essentials of project management and entrepreneurship. I saw how to get out of my comfort zone and take the initiative to be a lead on a project.
SP: What were you most surprised by in the program?
RA: The invitations to seminars, workshops and the opportunities for us to enrich our skills. Also the effort done by the mentors to give us the best knowledge and the best experiences during our stay.
SP: What was surprising about ThoughtWorks for you?
RA: The environment and the team members at ThoughtWorks are warm, welcoming, friendly, very helpful and transparent. I loved the flexibility they provide to their employees. For example, the office holds “Lunch and Learn” events to share knowledge and create a sense of community. I also appreciated the transparency regarding the company’s future direction with all employees.
SP: Would you recommend the TechWomen program to others?
RA - Yesssssss!
SP: What advice do you have for future emerging leaders?
RA: This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You should benefit as much as you can by attending lot of workshops and conferences. You should fill this journey with great moments, stories and connections and create a powerful network with influential people in your field.
If you are interested in learning more about the program, check out https://www.techwomen.org/