Here’s How This Latina Navigated Her Transition From Finance To Tech

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Marlene Arroyo may have started her career in finance, but it was the human aspect of any job that always drew her in. From Dell to her current role as Vice President of People Operations at Liftoff Mobile Inc., a high growth tech company in Silicon Valley, she has made it her career mission to champion employees and embrace how their humanity impacts their jobs.It was knowing what her career mission was at its core that made it possible for her to transition from one career path to the next.

“Philosophically, it became apparent to me that human resources was my calling when, as a finance professional, I’d enjoy spending most of my time dissecting costs associated to SG&A, training, hiring and coaching,” shares Arroyo. “Mechanically, the way I was able to make this transition was by having informational meetings with HR executives, taking evening courses, asking for help and being open about my aspirations to my sponsors. While the art of Human Resources came naturally to me, to differentiate myself, I needed to supercharge the impact I delivered by drawing from my finance experience and ensuring that my strategic recommendation were backed by data.”

Now, she uses her skill-set to help others achieve the kind of growth that she’s constantly challenged herself to work towards.

“My biggest motivation [through this journey] has been my family,” says Arroyo. “I feel incredibly blessed to be the daughter of immigrant parents who instilled in me work ethic and resilience. While my parents still do not completely understand what I do, they know I work hard and they are my biggest fans. Each education milestone and career progression has been theirs as well. Their American Dream lives in me and owning that, keeps me motivated .”

Growing up in the Latinx culture and within her own family unit can explain in part why Arroyo has felt the desire to pay it forward to other generations by way of her career.

Below she shares advice for Latinxs who are searching for advice on how to land their dream job, how to self-care if you’re in the position of constantly pouring into others, and how to make sure you’re learning the most from your current job.

Vivian Nunez: How has your Latinidad influenced your career?

Marlene Arroyo: Passion, humility, honor, perseverance – are all a part of my core values that I hold because of my Latinidad. Knowing that there is a lot more work to be done to help young Latinas see that they, too, can achieve their goals, keeps me in the arena.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

One female engineer shatters space’s glass ceiling

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How one woman overcame adversity and found success in space.

Diana Trujillo has always looked to the stars.

Growing up in Colombia during the 1980s, a place and time known for its civil unrest, she would stargaze to escape from the danger in her country. “I knew there had to be something better than this,” she recalls, adding, “Somewhere better than where I was.”

It’s that yearning which pushed Trujillo to immigrate to the United States with only $300 in her pocket, receive a degree in aerospace mechanics and biomechanics, and become one of the first Hispanic women to break into the aerospace industry.

Today, Trujillo oversees dozens of engineers and spearheads crucial projects, including a rover mission to Mars to explore the Gale Crater with one of the most technologically advanced rovers ever built.

We recently sat down with Trujillo to discuss resilience, the future of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), and her advice for thriving in a male-dominated industry. Here’s an excerpt of the conversation, edited and condensed for clarity:

Q:| You went from being a Hispanic immigrant who didn’t speak English to one of the country’s top female engineers. How did you turn what many would consider an adversity into an asset for your career?

It was an asset the whole time—I needed to decide how I would see it. My upbringing has taught me that you never give up. I’m not shy of asking what I want to do. I don’t run away from the problem; I run toward the problem. It’s something my peers find very valuable, because they know I’m going to grab any problem by the horns.

Q:| What’s been the biggest challenge in your career so far and what did you do to overcome it?

Honestly, the biggest challenge has been to get over myself. I often text my husband saying, “Oh, man, I’m in a meeting with 17 people and I’m the only girl.” So what if I’m the only girl? It doesn’t make me less capable. I’m all about having more women in the workforce, and having more women of color in the workforce. So, when there aren’t any other women in the room, I need to do my best and let other women in. If I’m too preoccupied about being the only one, I won’t perform.

Q:| What advice do you have for women to get over themselves, own a room, and own their place at the table?

It’s not about you; it’s about the goal. You need to focus on the goal. Nobody’s going to argue with you if your discussion is all about the goal. When the goal is bigger than you, it’s doesn’t matter who sets it because it’s for the greater good of the team.

Continue onto JP Morgan Chase to read the complete article.

How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter From Scratch in 30 Minutes

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You know enough to regularly update you resume—so if you find a job posting you’re interested in, you’re halfway through the application process.The other half, of course, is your cover letter. If you have some time and are just rusty, you can make a game plan to write a draft, then take a break, and come back to it with fresh eyes.

But if you see the deadline to apply is just 30 minutes away, you don’t have any time to spare. Here’s how to write a cover letter that will bolster your application—in just half an hour. (And if you need to revamp your resume or prep for interview in the same amount time, look here and here.)

Minutes 1 Through 10: Write Down Your Main Points

Maybe it’s just me, but I often struggle the most on the opening line of a cover letter. I know I shouldn’t lead with “My name is…,” and I want something that’ll grab the hiring manager’s attention. But my quest for the perfect beginning can lead me to spend 15 minutes (or more) typing and deleting the same line over and over. (And at that rate, my 30-minute cover letter would be all of two sentences.)

So, skip the intro if need be, and just start writing about why you’re a great fit for the open position. Don’t stress about the very best way to phrase your current responsibilities. Just write down your main points.

Need a prompt? Answer these questions: What do you find most exciting (or interesting) about the position? What relevant experience do you have? What would you bring to the role (and/or company) that’s unique to you?

Definitely make sure to have your resume and the job description open or printed out next to you. That way you can glance over at both and make sure you’re highlighting the right experience.

Minutes 10 Through 20: Add in Examples

OK, so you’ve written out all of reasons why you’re perfect for the job. Now it’s time to make sure you’re on the same page as the hiring manager. How so? Go back to that job description.

Re-read what the position calls for. Did you mention the experience and skills they’ll be screening for? To connect the dots in a way that’s clear—but wouldn’t be confused with a laundry list—add in an example or two.

If the job calls for people skills, swap out the line that reads, “I have excellent people skills” with a line that explains how in previous roles you’ve managed relationships with board members, which taught you about working with opinionated stakeholders. Does the position call for someone with sales experience? An anecdote about how you’ve been in sales since you set up your first lemonade stand when you were seven years old is memorable.

Continue onto Muse to read the complete article.

Hyundai shows off ‘walking car’ at CES

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The Hyundai Elevate Walking Car

Hyundai has shown off a small model of a car it says can activate robotic legs to walk at 3mph (5km/h) over rough terrain and also able to climb a 5ft (1.5m) wall and jump a 5ft gap.

The Hyundai Elevate could be useful for emergency rescues following natural disasters, Hyundai said.

It was part of a project exploring “beyond the range of wheels”, it added.

The concept has been in development for three years and was unveiled at the CES technology fair in Las Vegas.

“When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field. They have to go the rest of the way by foot,” said Hyundai vice-president John Suh.

“Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete.”

Mr. Suh also suggested that wheelchair users could be collected via the vehicles, which could “walk” up to the front door of a building with step-only access.

Prof David Bailey, from Aston Business School, said: “Often car companies bring out lots of concepts which may or may not make it into production but it’s great to think in new ways about mobility.

“For most of us, it’s going to be wheels and roads but in extreme situations there may be scope for this sort of thing.

Continue on to BBCnews.com to read the complete article.

2019 Hot Jobs

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Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers are revolutionizing the STEM field. If your New Years goals include a career in this field, or educational studies to advance your career, check out these hot jobs for 2019!

Software Developer

Annual Wage: $101,790

Employment of software developers is projected to grow 24 percent from 2018 to 2026.

Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.

Computer Systems Administrator

Annual Wage: $81,100

Employment of network and computer systems administrators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2018 to 2026.

Computer networks are critical parts of almost every organization. Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of these networks. They organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks, wide area networks, network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems.

Petroleum Engineer

Annual Wage: $132,280

Employment of petroleum engineers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2018 to 2026.

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface. Petroleum engineers also find new ways to extract oil and gas from older wells.

Architect

Annual Wage: $78,470

Employment of architects is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2026.

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.

Cartographer

Annual Wage: $63,990

Employment of cartographers is projected to grow 19 percent from 2018 to 2026.

Cartographers collect, measure, and interpret geographic information to create and update maps and charts for regional planning, education, emergency response, and other purposes.

Source: bls.gov

The Unspoken Rules of Job Searching in January

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Job search

I don’t have to tell you that January is quite the kick-starting month. Exhibit A: Have you noticed how packed your gym suddenly gets every January due to fitness-related resolutions?

But it’s also a big time of year for careers. See, plenty of us have just spent the holidays reevaluating our goals (and having to talk about said goals with judging family members). As a result, we enter January feeling motivated to make a change—whether it’s to go after a new job, a new company, or a new field completely.

But before setting the wheels in motion, it’s important to understand exactly what to expect from a job search this month. Here’s what the experts say:

Mid-January Is Your Best Bet for Applying

Why? As HR executive and Muse career coach Angela Smith points out, most people will still be recovering from the holiday break that first week.

“Companies might be kick-starting their annual hiring plans in early January,” she says, so once those processes start to pick up your best bet is to apply toward the middle of the month to ensure your application doesn’t get lost in a sea of unopened holiday mail.

Hiring Is a Big Priority in January

“In sales the end of the quarter is when people don’t take time off. In recruiting people tend to not take time off in the beginning of the year because that’s the busiest time,” says Smith.

The reasons why are several-fold, she explains. The new quarter brings new budgeting plans, which can mean more money to hire more people. It also brings new sales forecasts or company-wide goals, which can indicate where a company might be focusing their recruiting efforts and which teams they’re looking to build out. “Companies might be kick-starting their annual hiring plans in early January,” she says.

That said, Smith warns that this doesn’t necessarily mean that there are more jobs available in January than other times of the year.

…But There’s Also More Competition

January tends to bring an influx of eager job seekers, leading to more competition for job openings.

To state the obvious, “there will be a higher volume of people applying for jobs in January as more people wait until the holidays are over to begin looking for a possible change,” says Jamie Cole, Senior Account Manager at Merritt Staffing, a full-service recruiting agency.

Besides the #NewYearNewYou energy, folks may have a financial incentive to wait until January to job hunt. As Cole notes, companies often have a policy where bonuses aren’t distributed until the end of the year, and “people ideally do not like leaving money on the table with their last employer.”

…And the Process May Be Slower

While hiring in January may be more aggressive, it may also be a more drawn-out process.

Besides new budgets, January could also indicate other internal changes for companies: “I’ve worked with companies that have implemented a new ATS [applicant tracking system] in the new calendar year, so they’re testing out new systems or processes,” says Smith, which could mean delays in getting recruiting off the ground.

And, says Cole, you have to “be aware that not every company may have a finalized budget in place for the year…and this may cause a delay in hiring decisions.”

However, she notes, this could also be a positive: Since they haven’t yet filled those roles, you have a shot at locking them down if you apply in January.

The bigger reason why the process tends to slow down in January is because there’s no real rush. Simply put, “[employers] take their time because they have the time and the money” to do so, says Smith. “Pace yourself, and don’t expect super quick responses or a super quick process,” she adds.

What Does This All Mean?

The short answer? Treat your job search in January like you would any other month.

Keep in mind how your application will get through an ATS. Tailor your cover letter and resume. Network to get a leg-up at a specific company. Follow up to keep yourself on someone’s radar.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

What Your Resume Should Look Like in 2019

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women-computer-science

Resumes get a bad rap. We write them begrudgingly, usually during periods of transition, or tumult. We fiddle with phrasing and format, agonizing over how to craft our qualifications into the best resume possible. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

For smart job seekers, resumes are an opportunity — to make a case for their candidacy, to get the salary they’ve earned, and to convince any hiring manager she would be crazy not to hire them.

Yahoo MONEY teamed up with Dana Leavy-Detrick, founder of Brooklyn Resume Studio, to help you become one of those job seekers. Here’s how to write the perfect resume — and a free resume template that you can download and use for your next job interview.

Resume sample-Yahoo MONEY

(Resume design courtesy of Dana Leavy-Detrick; click here for a free downloadable template)

[1] The Best Resume Format

When it comes to resume format and design, opt for a clean layout. A recent study from the job site Ladders found that resumes with so-called F-pattern and E-pattern layouts, which mimic how our eyes tend to scan web pages, hold a recruiter’s attention for longer than those aligned down the center, or from right to left.

There is no one specific “best” font for resumes. You should use the same font style throughout, Leavy-Detrick says, but play with different weights and sizes to draw a recruiter’s eye to key parts of your resume. Sans serif fonts usually work best — Franklin Gothic, Calibri, and Avenir (the last of which we used for the attached template) are three of Leavy-Detrick’s favorites.

[2] Make Your Resume Stand Out

If you’re applying for an investment banking job, a hot-pink resume probably won’t do you any favors. But subtle pops of color, like the orange used here, will work for just about everyone.

“It’s very minimal, and gives a bit of a design element,” Leavy-Detrick says.

If you do use color, “Use it sparingly,” she warns. “Stick to one color, and one color that’s going to print well.”

[3] Add a Skills Section in Your Resume

Lead with the good stuff. The top of your resume should include “critical keywords and a quick snapshot of your core strengths,” Leavy-Detrick says.

Hard skills, tangible attributes that can easily be measured, take precedence here, so highlight them accordingly. If you’re in a tech-driven field, software and programming expertise is what employers want to see on your resume. If you’re in a creative industry, design and communication skills might be your best bet.

[4] Make a Resume That Shows Impact

To prove you’re worth a hiring manager’s time, highlight recent examples of what you bring to the table. Statistics that build upon your skills section are most impactful — bonus points if they show a track record of growth, revenue, and profitability, Leavy-Detrick says.

If you’re drawing a blank, she suggests adding resume skills that can help solve a “problem area” for the company you’re applying to.

“Impact doesn’t always have to be measured by metrics,” she says. “Cultural improvements, special projects, customer growth … anything that showed success can work.”

[5] What to Leave Off a Resume

Be discerning with the content—don’t list salary requirements, use tables or columns, or tick off every job you’ve ever had. The same goes for social media profiles. Unless your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds are relevant to the job you’re applying for, it’s probably best to leave those off your resume.

“Only include them if they add value in some way,” Leavy-Detrick says. “If you have zero followers, you may not want to advertise that.”

Continue on to Yahoo MONEY to read the complete article.

The Rise of Women in Technology

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AnitaB.org—a nonprofit social enterprise committed to increasing the representation of women technologists in the global workforce—announced the results of the organization’s annual Top Companies for Women Technologists program, the only industry benchmark based on statistical analysis of employer data that measures technical employees using a standardized definition of the technical workforce.

Once again, findings show a small but continued increase in the number of women employed in the technical workforce, with the highest increase occurring at the executive level.

In 2018, Top Companies for Women Technologists evaluated 80 companies accounting for more than 628,000 technologists across a variety of fields. Within the participating companies, women held 24.03 percent of technical roles. This 1.08 percent increase is slightly smaller than the 1.2 percent increase in 2017 but represents thousands of new jobs for women technologists.

Although representation increased across all career levels, the most significant increase was measured at the executive level, where the number of women grew 2.1 percent. Women were also promoted at a slightly higher rate than men for the second straight year, with 14.7 percent of them advancing compared to 14.4 percent of their male counterparts.

Organizations continue to invest in building workplaces where women are supported and valued as they pursue career goals. The 2018 results saw significant uptake in relevant policies and programs, including leadership development, gender diversity training, and pay equity policies.

Despite promising gains for women at the leadership level, women from underrepresented groups only make up around 13 percent of the technical workforce. The complete 2018 Top Companies Insights Report offers additional data, insights, and methodology details.

“We’re encouraged by the improvements companies have made to advance and retain women at the executive level,” said Michelle Russell, Vice President of Programs at AnitaB.org. “But in order to create truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environments, company leaders must focus on setting the tone and implementing policies for broader recruitment methods. They also must create opportunities and foster sponsorships to not only retain but advance diverse talent.”

In 2018, the five organizations with the highest cumulative scores in their respective workforce size categories (fewer than 1,000; 1,000 to 10,000; and greater than 10,000 technical employees) earned the additional distinction of placement on the “2018 Top Companies for Women Technologists Top Five” lists. These companies scored highest in their respective categories— Technical Workforce of fewer than 1,000: HBO Inc., Morningstar, Inc., Securian Financial, ThoughtWorks, and XO Group; 1,000–10,000: Airbnb, Blackbaud, GEICO, State Farm, Ultimate Software; and greater than 10,000: Accenture, Bank of America, Google, IBM, and SAP.

Source: anitab.org

Dr. Gladys West, Who Helped Develop The GPS, Inducted Into Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame

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This “hidden figure” is finally getting her due praise.

A “hidden figure” in the development of GPS technology has officially been honored for her work.Mathematician Dr. Gladys West was recognized for doing the computing responsible for creating the Geographical Positioning System, more commonly referred to as the GPS.

On December 6, the 87-year-old woman was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame by the United States Air Force during a ceremony at the Pentagon.

The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority member, born in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, earned a full scholarship to Virginia State University after graduating high school at the top of her class. Gwen James, her sorority sister, told The Associated Press she discovered her longtime friend’s achievements when she was compiling a bio for senior members of the group.

“GPS has changed the lives of everyone forever,” James said. “There is not a segment of this global society — military, auto industry, cell phone industry, social media, parents, NASA, etc. — that does not utilize the Global Positioning System.”

Dr. West spent 42 years working on the naval base at Dahlgren, Virginia. During this time, she was one of the few women hired by the military to do advanced technological work. During the early 1960s, she was commissioned by the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory to support research around Pluto’s motion. From the mid-1970s to the 1980s, her computing work on a geodetic Earth model led to what became the first GPS orbit.

“This involved planning and executing several highly complex computer algorithms which have to analyze an enormous amount of data,” Ralph Neiman, her supervisor who recommended her for commendation in 1979, said. “You have used your knowledge of computer applications to accomplish this in an efficient and timely manner.”

Continue onto Blavity to read the complete article.

Inspiring kids to use STEM for good—Q & A with social media star Kitboga

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Kitboga

For Computer Science Education Week, social media star Kitboga teamed up with global STEM education nonprofit FIRST to show K-12 students how they too can use their powers for good. Kitboga hosted FIRST’s Twitch feed to chat live with students and fans about how the STEM skills they learn today can empower them to stand up for what’s right and make a difference in the world.

Diversity in STEAM Magazine (DISM) recently had the opportunity to ask Kitboga about his interest in STEM for kids.

Kitboga has become a vigilante when it comes to scam baiting, using tech skills, secret identities and wit to toy with and then take down scammers and hackers.

DISM – What inspired you to join the STEM movement?

Kitboga My parents did a fantastic job of giving me opportunities to explore the world around me and pursue learning. Whether it was backyard catapults, converting a riding lawn mower into a go-kart, or helping us reinstall Windows when we broke the family computer, my parents were there. At this point, I would almost say I’m addicted to learning. I absolutely wouldn’t be who I am today without this passion and I believe experiences like FIRST (a global education nonprofit that fuels kids’ interest in STEM through robotics-based challenges), home science experiments, the Boy Scouts, and having an encouraging family environment surrounding me set the foundation. Sadly, not everyone has the same opportunities I had as a child, but organizations like FIRST help bridge the gap.

Now as a father and online influencer, I want to help provide experiences for the younger generation that inspire them to try new things, learn from their mistakes, and pursue things they’re passionate about.

DISM – Why do you think it is important for the younger generation to get a head start in STEM?

Kitboga – I think one of the most incredible parts about us as a species is our capability to explore and  contemplate things that we know very little about. We’ve learned so much in our short time on Earth, but it seems as though we’ve only just begun in terms of what kind of technological advancements will come next. If we don’t encourage our students to push boundaries in STEM, who knows what inventions and discoveries we’ll miss out on.

It’s also important to mention that STEM is in every single industry and will only continue tobecome more prevalent as time goes on. I can’t think of a field that doesn’t benefit from advancements in STEM, or a single industry that doesn’t need a programmer, for example. I suppose STEM and loving to learn will help you help the world around you and make you valuable when it comes time to start your own family or career.

DISM – We know you spent the day building a “meme-o-meter” with young students involved in robotics, can you tell us a little more about that?

Kitboga – On my Twitch channel I spend a significant amount of time talking to scammers – people who take advantage of not-so-tech-savvy individuals, for example. Sometimes I try to include some humor and lighten the mood with jokes or start rambling about a nonsensical story to waste the scammer’s time. My community watching live will start to “spam” an emoticon:

This fills up a gauge over time and alerts me that I might be being a little too silly and the scammer might catch on to what I’m doing.

FIRST reached out about doing a project together and had the idea to recreate this in physical form. It was an incredible experience working with different technologies that I have never used before. We 3D-printed the “needle,” used Raspberry PI to interface with a servo and other parts, and coded a IRC chat bot in Python, to name a few.

Throughout the livestream I made some mistakes and learned a lot. I’m hoping it inspired some people to try projects like this on their own, or maybe even look into joining an organization like FIRST near them.

DISM – What is one thing you would tell students who are looking to pursue STEM?

Kitboga – Don’t let a fear of making mistakes stop you from diving into STEM. When I was younger, I was so afraid to “mess up” or fail when I was learning. Now I see each “mistake” as an opportunity to learn and know it’s going to make the next project or next path of my life better. So start pursuing STEM today and don’t worry if you are not “good at it” at first, it’s all part of the fun of it!

Arab Women Make a Charge into Engineering

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Arab woman engineer looking at plans

By Eric Iversen

Try as people have, getting and keeping women in U.S. engineering programs remain vexing challenges. For a decade now, the numbers have stayed the same: 30 percent of students enrolled, 20 percent graduated. Individual successes like Dartmouth and Harvey Mudd notwithstanding, the overall rates don’t seem to budge.

Meanwhile, in Arab countries, rates of women participating in engineering education have shot past those in the United States. Across the Arab world, in countries both developing and wealthy, women enroll and graduate in noticeably greater numbers.

The reasons vary, and it’s not clear that researchers have fleshed out the whole story. But throughout the Middle East, women’s participation in engineering is notably higher than in the United States. For reasons as diverse as the countries themselves, Arab women exceed their U.S. counterparts in enrolling and completing engineering degrees, and it’s not even really close.

Recent U.S. history

From 1990 to 2000, women’s share of earned engineering degrees in the United States rose from 15.4 percent to 20.1 percent. At this rate of increase, one-third over ten years, we should have seen women earning about 27 percent of degrees in 2010.

The actual result: 18.4 percent.

It ticked up to almost 20 percent in 2014 but still below the 2000 rate after nearly a decade and a half of extensive outreach to girls extolling the opportunities and rewards of studying engineering. Perhaps indicating a break-out, the rate of freshman women intending to major in engineering has gone up from 3.3 percent in 2008 to 5.8 percent in 2014. Until more numbers come in, though, the story remains that women resist the engineering argument.

In Arab higher education, however, the story is different. Women are responding to the engineering argument. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO estimates that women could comprise as many as 60 percent of engineering students in the countries surrounding the Persian Gulf.

Among rich countries:

  • Kuwait graduates women at 49 percent of engineering classes.
  • Thirty-two percent of engineering students in Bahrain are women.
  • United Arab Emirates enrollments increased from 2.9 percent in 2012 to 24.9 percent in 2015.
  • In Saudi Arabia, graduation rates for women in engineering have risen from one percent in 2000 to 10 percent by 2011. And 80 percent of female students show interest in engineering.

Developing countries do well, too:

  • Women are 40 percent of engineering classes in Jordan.
  • Algeria’s engineering class is 36 percent female.
  • Women in Gaza study computer science and engineering at the same or higher rates than men do.

Knowledge-based economies

Governments across the Arab region have made transitioning to knowledge-based economies a policy priority. One study found 17 of the 22 Arab countries have made this commitment, and the education pieces of this project have accelerated women’s entry into STEM fields, and engineering in particular:

  • With national education systems in place, countries have pushed STEM-related reforms quickly and substantially throughout primary, secondary, and post-secondary education systems.
  • Many girls attend single-sex schools, which might (or might not) be a factor promoting their achievement in math and science fields.
  • University admissions are typically tied to performance on tests, which are gender-neutral. Girls who do well on tests move into areas of their demonstrated aptitude.

Prestige

Engineering enjoys a higher social status in the Middle East than it does in the United States. Tod Laursen, president of Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi and former Duke University faculty member, says, “The engineering profession in general holds a lot of prestige in the UAE, and we find that the families of our female students are very highly supportive and proud of their daughters, wives, siblings studying these subjects.”

Startup culture, and the technology industry in general, can be, surprisingly, less gendered in the Middle East. A recent meeting of Internet entrepreneurs in Amman, Jordan, was over one-third women, a rate that attendees confirmed as typical in the field.

Where it shows up

  • Microsoft runs an annual app-building competition called the Imagine Cup. The 2013 competition attracted notice because two of the three all-women teams came from the Middle East: one from Oman, the other from Qatar. Their presence at the competition impressed observers more than the women themselves. “We really didn’t think about it until we came and everyone was surprised,” says Latifa Al-Naimi, 20, a member of the team from Qatar.
  • The Committee of Arab Women Engineers has been recognizing accomplishments by women in the field in public ceremonies since 2011. Jordanian Princess Sumaya, also the President of the Royal Scientific Society in Jordan, has been a staunch supporter of the group, and she also chairs the Board of Trustees of the Princess Sumaya Institute of Technology.
  • When Nerman Fawzi Sa’d, a mechanical engineer in Jordan, was looking for help with some projects, she posted a seven-word ad online: “Female engineers required to work from home.” Within a week, she received over 700 resumes. This response led her to form Handasiyat, a virtual engineering consultancy employing female Arab engineers. A crashing success, the company earned her recognition as one of the 100 most powerful Arab women in the world, according to ArabianBusiness.com.

What we might learn

The factors and forces behind Arab women’s increasing prominence in engineering education and technology fields in general cut in fascinating, confounding ways. The phenomenon has garnered enough attention to be serving as the focus of a two-year, NSF-funded study of female engineering students in four Arab countries.

The researchers themselves emphasize the counter-intuitive nature of their work. Predominantly Muslim countries, notoriously restrictive for women, are unexpected places to go for insights into how to unlock the potential of women in engineering in the United States.

And yet, the data are clear, for all the complexity underlying them. We should clearly keep working on how to bring the lessons from the Middle East back to the United States in a form applicable to our own challenges with the gender gap in engineering.

Source: start-engineering.com