Jun 5, 2017
Interview with Girls in Tech: Women in Armenia are Making Their Way in Tech
Girls in Tech (GIT) Armenia is the Armenian branch of a global non-profit focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of girls and women who are passionate about technology. To find out more on how GIT is changing the Armenian landscape of women in tech, we talked to Seda Papoyan, the Managing Director of Girls in Tech Armenia.
WA: How was Girls in Tech Armenia created?
Having always been a geek by nature and habits, also being very much focused on women’s rights and equal opportunities, I found Girls in Tech while surfing on the net and digging into deeper layers of what’s going on around. I discovered that the underrepresented situation of women in tech is something we are not alone with, and even in the Silicon Valley, women hold in their everyday agenda the issue of being equal with their capabilities, professional knowledge, and practical experience in STEM. But it’s important to mention that Girls in Tech is not just for professional women. It exists for anyone with an interest in technology, startups and providing women with a platform for growth. The main accent is on the spirit of the girl within all of us—fearless, lively and determined.
WA: What’s your primary goal and mission?
Adriana Gascoigne founded the organization in 2007 to create a support framework to help women advance their careers in STEM fields. Today, Girls in Tech aims to accelerate the growth of innovative women entering into the high-tech industry and building startups. We achieve this through the creation of proprietary, innovative programming and strategic global partnerships. I’m truly proud to be the one to initiate women in Armenia joining this wonderful family of powerful women with headquarters in San Francisco and more than 50,000 members located in 60 chapters around the globe.
WA: You have already come up with interesting activities, one of which was the Power Builder Boot Camp. What more shall we wait for? What plans for the future do you have?
In February 2017 in cooperation with Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center (ISTC,) Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF,) and USAID, we had the chance to organize our first public initiative which was a one-day Power Builder Bootcamp. The interactive workshop was created and was virtually run by Hillary Weber, an entrepreneur, Berkeley-Haas MBA, seasoned business leader, leadership consultant, experienced executive and team coach. That was the first, Confidence module of the whole Startup Success Factors Bootcamp. And the seeds we planted are giving sprouts now. We are now planning the continuation of the Bootcamp with the full cycle with Modules of Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Product Development and Finances with Hilary Weber arriving in Armenia. This is going to be a 5-day boot camp in Fall 2017. Soon we will be sharing more details on terms of participation. Besides, we’re also planning one of the most successful programs of Girls in Tech worldwide, the Hacking for Humanity hackathon to be organized in Armenia in September 2017. Towards that initiative, we are now joining kolba Lab, the UNDP Armenia’s idea incubator, in partnership for their upcoming Startup competition on Education. Thus we are going to attract more women interested to improve education with their innovative ideas. In June I’ll have the chance to participate in one of the biggest and, I believe, the most important conferences of the year for the whole Girls in Tech community, the Catalyst Conference. It will feature three incredible days of authentic “TEDx-style” presentations from some of the most revered women in tech, business and leadership. At Catalyst, the revolutionary speakers share tales of their journey to the top, career advice, how they made tough decisions, and, most importantly, what sage advice they want to pass on to the next-generation of female tech workforce. I’d be happy to share my take-away from the conference when I’m back.
WA: How do you envisage the role of Armenian girls in Armenian and global IT spheres in the future? How about the current situation?
First of all, with our yet small team we’d be happy to see more enthusiasm from girls and women ready to join us and take a step forward. This is a supportive environment we create together and make it productive for a number of other women. Anyone is welcome to join Girls in Tech as a member and benefit from our activities. The first step is to fill in this short form and wait for an answer from us. As to the Armenian reality, I’m proud to say that every other day I meet a new woman who’s not at all afraid to break the barrier and with her own example become a role model for others. The situation in Armenia is not at all different from other European countries. It’s just about the mind barriers that are built in human beings to discriminate women also in tech field and STEM as a whole. What if all efforts change the situation so much, that no one would consider if the back-end developer is a woman or a man, as we don’t do when we see a dentist. Furthermore, gender should never be discussed when deciding about someone to take a leadership role in tech, and in anything else in our post post-modern society. No drastic change or effort is needed, it’s just about shift in our minds and approaches to our daily life in tech. Women will make their way!