TechWomen Empowers International Women Leaders

TechWomen empowers women for leadership in STEM fields and in their societies

SAN FRANCISCO, September 8, 2016—Adobe, LinkedIn and Google are among more than 30 leading tech companies in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley that are hosting emerging women tech leaders from 19 countries for an intensive program of mentoring and professional networking this month. Out of more than 2,300 applicants, 90 extraordinary women—the top 4%—from Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East have been selected to come to the United States to participate in TechWomen, a five-week program that empowers women for leadership in their fields and their societies. TechWomen, launched in 2011 by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in San Francisco.

In addition to working one-on-one on professional projects with their mentors, the TechWomen Emerging Leaders will attend workshops hosted by program partners to develop projects that address social and environmental issues in their communities. In Uzbekistan, for example, past participants have launched a platform to connect and support women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. In Nigeria, participants have launched a STEM program for kids in rural areas and recently met with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg during his visit to a summer coding camp.

The U.S. Department of State’s Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan said, “The State Department is committed to investing in women across the globe through programs like TechWomen because we know that no country can get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind.” The program supports the United States’ global commitment to advance the rights and participation of women and girls around the world.

More than half of this year’s 90 TechWomen Emerging Leaders have a master’s degree, and 16 are chief executive officers or founders of a company. They are leaders in the fields of STEM, hailing from Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, the Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe. Profiles of all 90 TechWomen Emerging Leaders are available at

These inspiring women include:

  • Cheryl Kerama-Likoko of Kenya, who pioneered patient access programs and helped establish the Africa chapter of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. She will be mentored at Genentech.
  • Nargiza Abdubalieva, co-founder of a real-time mobile application for public transportation in Kyrgyzstan. She will be mentored at Twitter.
  • Lilian Abou Zeki of Lebanon, who created one of the first university-level design thinking and innovation courses in the MENA region. She will be mentored at Fitbit.

Emerging Leaders are selected to participate in TechWomen based on educational and professional accomplishments, as well as potential and commitment to inspire and support girls in STEM. IIE has matched Emerging Leaders with mentors from 33 Silicon Valley and Greater San Francisco Bay Area companies based on each Emerging Leader’s background and goals.

The 2016 companies include: 500 Startups, Adobe, Advent Software, Autodesk, Cahill Contractors Inc., Cyark, Ericsson, Fitbit, Folsom Labs, Genentech, Google, Juniper, Networks, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, LinkedIn, Lumos Labs, Mozilla, NASA Ames Research Center, Northgate Environmental Management, Optimizely, Pacific Gas & Electric, Company, PayPal, Prysm, Qualcomm, Quid,, SunPower, Sunrun, Symantec, Synopsys, Twitter, University of California in San Francisco, Veritas and VMware.

“TechWomen will help me develop, refine and grow my ideas and equip me with skills to help me manage my startup and venture into other business endeavors,” Lumka Msibi of South Africa said. Lumka is a systems engineer and will be hosted by NASA Ames Research Center. “The mentorship will help me to bring international best practices to the local setting where related businesses can feed one another’s growth to build unique solutions that will make a difference in the world.”

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Note to Editors: Media are invited to attend TechWomen events by advance RSVP. Contact Shana Childs and Joanne Liou for details on time and location, and to schedule interviews with program participants.

  • Cultural Kickoff | Tuesday, Sept. 13, 5 pm at Twitter
    Participants will showcase the culture of their home countries to TechWomen mentors and partners. This event is a robust reflection of the program’s diversity.
  • Pitch Day | Friday, Oct. 7, 3 pm at Oracle
    Groups will pitch action plans to address a socioeconomic challenge in their home country. A panel, comprised of executives from TechWomen partner organizations and venture capitalists, will evaluate pitches and determine the top action plans to be awarded seed grants.
  • Community Celebration | Monday, Oct. 10, 6 pm at Automattic
    The celebration will showcase the top action plans, and seed grant recipients will be announced. The event will highlight ways to get involved and showcase the global impact of TechWomen.

Shana Childs,, (212) 984-5360
Joanne Liou,, (415) 362-6520 x 227

About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the leader in providing international education strategies and program services. Our international approach to education—diverse, borderless, impactful—is a proven way for governments and companies to invest in global talent and solidify overseas relationships. We work with policymakers, educators and employers across the globe to prepare students and professionals for the global workforce and equip them to solve the increasingly complex challenges facing our interconnected world. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide, including in New Delhi, and over 1,400 member institutions.

Through its Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives, IIE provides opportunities for women worldwide to participate in cutting-edge training, professional development and exchange programs and pursue higher education. Our programs help women to develop and join networks of peers, mentors and experts and serve as effective leaders in the public and private sectors around the world.


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