Tag Archives: Central Asia

Honoring STEM Mentoring

ECR Simple Servant Award to Katy Dickinson 3 Nov 2017

At the 37th Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real annual convention last weekend, I was honored by Bishop Mary Grey-Reeves with a second Simple Servant Award for my work since 2010 with the TechWomen mentoring program of the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The award certificate reads:

Simple Servant Award
Presented on November 3, 2017 to
Katy Dickinson
The Diocese of El Camino Real honors you. May God bless you for your
faithful ministry mentoring women in Africa and the Middle East in STEM
professions, and for your contribution to the creation of a “virtuous cycle” of
knowledge and wisdom sharing in the world of technology.

It has been an honor and pleasure to work with TechWomen and my mentees from Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Watching this program thrive and touch so many lives is a great delight. Since I worked in 2010-2011 as the TechWomen Process Architect, I have been a volunteer with this life-changing program as a mentor, working with groups of STEM leaders who travel to the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley to be hosted by 122 science and technology companies and organizations for a month (and then continue a mentoring relationship once they have returned to their home country).

Beginning with the first cohort of 37 from 6 countries in 2011, there have been 518 TechWomen Fellows from 22 countries and 698 mentors. I have formally been assigned to mentor 14 women in Lebanon, Algeria, Gaza-Palestine, Jordan, and Tunisia – and have worked with many more who have asked me to be their mentor. I have also participated in nine formal TechWomen Delegations with the State Department, to: Jordan (twice), Kyrgyzstan, Morocco (twice), Rwanda, South Africa, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe, as well as making informal trips with TechWomen mentors to visit our mentees in Lebanon, Gaza-Palestine, and Sierra Leone.  Learning from my sister mentors as well as from my mentees is part of the joy and value of this excellent program for Citizen Diplomats.

Want to make a different in STEM? Please consider joining TechWomen as a mentor yourself!

ECR Convention Simple Servant award Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Katy Dickinson 3 Nov 2017 by Elrond Lawrence

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Photo Copyright 2017 by the Diocese of El Camino Real, Elrond Lawrence.

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TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation

TechWomen Delegation Kyrgyzstan 2017 at US Ambassador Residence Bishkek

I was part of the TechWomen Delegation to Kyrgyzstan from 23 February – 4 March 2017 in Central Asia. We spent a week giving talks and making presentations to women, girls, technical startups and the STEM community.  35 participated in the Delegation – from the USA, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and of course Kyrgyzstan. In addition to the mentors from the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area and the Fellows from Central Asia, our Delegation included staff from the Institute of International Education and the US State Department.

Three of us had an accidental tour of Istanbul getting to Kyrgyzstan since our flight connections didn’t.  We hired a driver during our day of waiting for the next Bishkek flight and saw Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and other remarkable locations in that beautiful and cosmopolitan city.  Since there is a Travel Warning for Turkey, we avoided crowded areas.

Each Delegation member had the opportunity to give several professional presentations. In addition to general mentoring sessions, my presentation topics included: Successful Mentorship (at the Kyrgyz State Agrarian Academy), Crowd Funding (part of the “Silicon Valley Experts Symposium” hosted by the US Ambassador, Sheila Gwaltney and the Kyrgyzstan Information Technology State Committee), Women in Tech: Challenges and Opportunities (at StartUp Tuesday), Social Media Marketing and Professional Networking (at the Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University), and Challenges and Opportunities in STEM Careers (in the American Corner, for high school students). After the presentations were over, a small group of us rented a bus and drove to see the remarkable 9th century minaret called the Burana Tower near Tokmok.

The day I arrived in Bishkek was when my mother died.    I knew when I left that this was a possibility even though I thought (and hoped) she would be with us much longer.  I had made all of the preparations in advance and both of my brothers were with her when she died.  I saw continuing my participation in the Delegation as a tribute to the woman my mother raised me to be – but it was hard to be away from home at such a time.

Katy Dickinson at the Istanbul Blue Mosque, Feb 2017

Katy Dickinson, Nandini Ramani, Judith Fleenor at Hagia Sophia Istanbul Feb 2017

TechWomen Delegation Kyrgyzstan 2017 schedule

TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation 2017 Katy Dickinson and IdaRose Sylvester with Kurmanjan Datka statue Bishkek

TechWomen Delegation Kyrgyzstan 2017 in the snow

TechWomen Delegation Kyrgyzstan 2017 at Robotics Fair, Physics and Mathematics School‐Lyceum, Bishkek

TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation at Kyrgyz‐Turkish Manas University 2017

TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation 2017 at Burana Tower

TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation 2017 near Burana Tower

TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation 2017 Katy Dickinson with Nancy Talbot and Rebecca Biswas

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TechWomen Kyrgyzstan Delegation, and Uzbekistan Trip

Kyrgyzstan TechWomen Opening Event 13 September 2016

In February-March 2017, I will join the TechWomen Delegation to Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. I look forward to working Yelena Filipchik and other TechWomen Fellows in Bishkek, spending a week giving talks and making presentations to women, girls, technical startups and the STEM community.  After the week in Kyrgyzstan, Saida Yusupova has invited me to Tashkent in Uzbekistan for a few days to help give Technovation training on mentoring and leadership.

So far, I have been focused on getting my flights sorted out.  Spending hours on the Hipmunk travel site, I discovered that (depending on the day of the week) you can economically get to Bishkek from either San Francisco or San Jose, flying through Istanbul, Moscow, Dubai, Frankfurt, or Beijing.  My flights will go through Dubai. Just travel time (not counting layovers) will be about 20 hours each way.

It cost about $1,000 less to buy two round trip tickets: California-Kyrgzstan-California and Kyrgzstan-Uzbekistan-Kyrgzstan than to book a single trip.  This means I have to transfer my bag from airline to airline myself but the layovers are very long, so there is time for that.  I am still thinking about what to do during the unavoidable 19+ hour layover in Dubai coming home.

I am also reading up on what to see in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan on the Lonely Planet website.  The TechWomen Delegation orientation meeting by IIE is next week.

Yelena Filipchik, Kyrgyzstan, with Mentor Certificate, Dec 2016

Uzbekistan TechWomen Pitch Poster October 2016

Kyrgyzstan TechWomen Pitch Poster October 2016

Saida Yusupova and Katy Dickinson, TechWomen, October 2016

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TechWomen 2016 Fellows – Next Steps

12 Certified Mentors TechWomen 2016 Fellows

The 90 TechWomen 2016 Fellows returned to their 19 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. After a very busy month in the San Francisco Bay Area and a week in Washington DC, they have been been reconnecting with home and family. Some of us mentors in the Silicon Valley have continued working remotely with our mentees since we last saw them in Washington DC.  Two groups with whom I have actively continued to work are Team Tunisia (the development group of six from Tunis, plus three TechWomen mentors), and the TechWomen 2016 Fellows who have become Certified Mentors with my company, Mentoring Standard.

Team Tunisia has met remotely twice already and is busily developing plans, branding, and social media for WAKTECH. WAKTECH will developing a software application plus community system to improve public transport in Tunis. Our team won one of the TechWomen Pitch Day seed grants last month and we are  now looking for additional sources of funding and support. While we were in Washington DC, Team Tunisia was able to meet His Excellency Fayçal Gouia, Tunisia’s Ambassador to the United States. We brought along our TechWomen trophy to show him!

12 TechWomen 2016 Fellows have completed the submissions required to become Certified Mentors after returning home.  They have demonstrated that they hold the following three qualities:

  1. Significant Mentoring History.
  2. Good Reputation.
  3. Respectable Professional Experience.

Congratulations and welcome to:

Engy Abdalla Architect & Interior Designer, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Alexandria, Egypt
Yousra Anwar Abdelhady Independent Trainer, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Alexandria, Egypt
Chioma Hannah Ezedi Programmer, Abububakar Tafawa Balewa University, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Bauchi, Nigeria
Yelena Filipchik Sales Intelligence Manager, PepsiCo, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Almaty, Kazakhstan
Habsatou Nadia Project Engineer, Cameroon Telecommunication, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Yaounde, Cameroon
Kitio Tsamo Arielle Founder: WIT, Computer Science Lecturer Assistant: University of Yaounde 1, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Yaounde, Cameroon
Diana Hasan Nassar Product Manager: souq.com, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Amman, Jordan
Estelle Ndedi-Nzalli Computer Sciences Engineer, Information Technology Department,
Ingenieris, TechWomen 2016 Fellow
Yaounde, Cameroon
Dr. Francisca Onaolapo Oladipo Professor, Federal University Lokoja, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria
Gulshnar Salpykova IT Specialist, Transtelecom JSC, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Astana, Kazakhstan
Yomna Emad Saleh Business & Innovation Consultant: Innovety, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Cairo, Egypt
Nazira Sheraly CEO, Agroholding Jashyl Charba, TechWomen 2016 Fellow Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

I am very proud of all of them!  More information about each of these remarkable mentors is on Mentoring Standard’s Honor Roll.

TechWomen at the Smithsonian, Washington DC, October 2016

TechWomen Team Tunisia WAKTECH Washington DC, 14 October 2016

His Excellency Fayçal Gouia with TechWomen Team Tunisia at Ambassador's Reception, Washington DC, October 2016

12 Certified Mentors TechWomen 2016 Fellows

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Africa Wins!

Tunisia 2016 TechWomen with Impact Advisors

At yesterday’s TechWomen Community Event, all five Pitch Day seed grant prizes went to teams representing countries in Africa: Cameroon, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tunisia, and Kenya! All 19 presentations from Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa were so inspiring, I am sure the judges had a tough time deciding which to honor.  It was a pleasure to spend the evening with my daughter Jessica.

I am so very proud to have been one of the Impact Advisors for Tunisia! Our WAKTECH action plan to improve transportation in Tunis included six from Tunisia and three from the San Francisco Bay Area:

  • Melek Jebnoun- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Raoudha Lagha- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Salma Saidi- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Salma Sayah- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Sinda Soussia- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Yosr Tammar- Tunisia Emerging Leader
  • Fatema Kothari- California Mentor and Impact Advisor
  • Katy Dickinson- California Mentor and Impact Advisor
  • Mercedes Soria- California Mentor and Impact Advisor

Early tomorrow, TechWomen shifts from the San Francisco Bay Area to Washington DC. What a month this has been!

Sierra Leone 2016 TechWomen

Tunisia 2016 TechWomen

TechWomen 2016 Flag Parade

Arezoo Riahi 2016 TechWomen Seed Grants

Cameroon 2016 TechWomen

TechWomen 2016 Seed Grant Award

Gaza Sky Geeks Impact Photo

Tunisia TechWomen 2016 Impact Advisors

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Advising 6 TechWomen from Tunisia

TechWomen 2016 Tunisia Impact Advisory Group at Pitch Day 7 Oct 2016

Since August 2016, I have been honored to be one of three Impact Advisors to the six TechWomen Emerging Leaders from Tunisia. We started meeting while the ELs were still in Tunis and we have continued our discussions at least weekly since. Mercedes Soria (Vice President of Software Engineering, Knightscope), Fatema Kothari (Senior Consultant,
T-Mobile), and I have had a wonderful time working on this.

On 7 October, the ladies presented our plan for WAKTECH at the TechWomen Pitch Day hosted by Oracle here in the Silicon Valley. This is the Executive Summary for WAKTECH, from our Action Plan:

The biggest public transport issue in Tunis is delay. Bus and metro schedules are confusing and unreliable. What makes this issue worse is the lack of total absence of online and offline information about these delays. Users are deprived from real time information about it. WAKTECH will be the first mobile platform to centralize the information about public transportation in Tunisia. It will provide all the needed information about traffic, schedule and transit itinerary. The particularity of this application resides in the community of trusted users who will be its main source of data.

We will be building an application that enables users to share information about public transit like departure and arrival times or possible incidents. Based on that data, the users can access at any moment that information to schedule their trip, be on time, and save money. Using WAKTECH will help create the smart Tunis everyone is dreaming of where technology serves the citizens to manage their time effectively and create a community of responsible users.

Our Tunisia team was one of 19 that presented – one from each of the TechWomen countries. I was so proud of their poised and professional presentation! Tonight at the TechWomen Community Celebration in San Francisco we will hear the results of the pitch judging – only five teams will win one of the cash prizes. There were many superb presentations and inspiring projects proposed for Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Wish us luck!

TechWomen Barbara Williams and Katy Dickinson 7 Oct 2016

TechWomen Stay Fearless - by Fatema Kothari

Tunisia 2016 TechWomen waiting to pitch 7 Oct 2016

Mentoring Standard Conducktors for Tunisia 2016 TechWomen

TechWomen 2016 Tunisia WAKTECH presentation at Pitch Day 7 Oct 2016

Crows at Oracle, Redwood Shores CA

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TechWomen Mail

Katy Dickinson and Janet Fofang Hopper Conference 2015

The TechWomen mentoring program participants often travel among our 21 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia.   On our journeys, mentors and mentees often bring each other things, calling such deliveries “TechWomen Mail”. Sometimes the generous TechWomen carry local treats (like cookies or honey), or souvenirs from their country (like pen holders or coffee mugs).  Earlier this year, a traveling mentor bought a rug in the souq only to find it too big for her luggage.  In the next few months, I am sure that rug will arrive in the Silicon Valley with a visiting TechWoman.

Souvenirs from Egypt and Lebanon, coffee and pen cups

Since I would be seeing the Cameroon “Angels Tech of Africa” Technovation team in San Francisco, Janet Fofang (TechWomen 2013 Fellow) asked me to send her some electronics to use when teaching her Tassah Academy or WeTech girls in Yaounde, Cameroon. My husband, John Plocher, put together a box of interesting electronic boards and chips for exploration. Dorothée Danedjo Fouba  (TechWomen 2014 Fellow) kindly agreed to carry the box to Janet. I left the box loosely packed and openable so that Dorothée and customs inspectors could see what it contained – I am sure it looked odd on airport scanners.

This week, Janet wrote me that the box had arrived safely. (Thanks to Dorothée!) Janet and John are now in email discussions about what was in the box, and about software and hardware open source projects he has published on our family website, spcoast.com. We may have more TechWomen Mail headed to Cameroon soon!

Teaching Materials - Electronic Parts July 2016

Cameroon Technovation Team with Katy Dickinson and Tara Chklovski 2016

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Images Copyright 2015-2016 by Katy Dickinson

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