There’s been a lot of talk recently about 37 year old Marissa Mayer, the newly appointed Yahoo! CEO and president. With only 22% of women in science and tech related fields, many feel like Mayer along with other women in tech will pave the way for a new generation of girls in the field. So it seems 'bout right that Hillary Clinton launched TechGirls, an exchange program designed to empower young girls to pursue careers in science and tech.
For three weeks, a group of 25 tech savvy teenage girls from the Middle East and Africa traveled stateside to learn about things (I probably can’t even pronounce) at technology camp, kick it with political and business leaders, and visit some tech companies you may have heard of (ahem, Facebook and Google). The crew of socially conscious chicks also worked on community service projects in between taking in all the DC and New York sites.
We caught up with Hawraa Sweidan, a rockstar 16-year-old from Lebanon, who participated in the TechGirls program. A girl with a sincere passion to help others, Hawraa volunteers at a refugee camp in Lebanon working mainly with refugees from Iraq and Sudan. Now, she wants to apply what she learned during her U.S. stay to her volunteer work back home. #Mindblown.
Photo: Hawraa Sweidan enjoying Central Park in New York City. (TechGirls)
MTV ACT: What do you hope to share with American teens you meet about your culture?
HAWRAA: As I experienced during the TechGirls program, it is important to share other cultures because it helps you form relationships and networks that can help you get a job. I believe that many problems in the world can be attributed to cultural differences and a lack of understanding, or respect for others' views.
MTV ACT: What advice would you give to girls back home who want to pursue careers in technology?
HAWRAA: After meeting many women in high positions in the technological field, I would like to tell the girls in my country: You have the TALENT, you have KNOWLEDGE, and you have the POWER, so work hard to build and upgrade your skills by:
+ Gaining knowledge and technological skills.
+ Believing you are a future leader.
+ Establishing relations and while interacting with people, be sure to respect them.
+ Knowing who you really are and what you want.
+ Listen, engage, and ask!
MTV ACT: What advice did you receive on the TechGirls program that really stuck with you?
HAWRAA: My mentors Ms. Nadia Ilahi and Ms. Diana Lupsic, provided us with very important advice in the course of leadership when they said, "Communication is the core of LEADERSHIP."