At Juniper, we believe strongly in women helping women. You can see this clearly in the many programs we support that work to increase representation of women and diversity within our science, technology, engineering and math-intensive (STEM) industry.
These beliefs and goals take a global approach, but their success is marked in the achievements and transformations of the individual women who take part. The recent experiences of two outstanding Juniper women demonstrate this in profound terms.
TechWomen, one of the organizations Juniper has supported and actively participated in for a number of years, empowers and connects emerging women leaders in STEM from Africa, Central and South Asia and the Middle East. It does this through proven methods: engaging female mentors, building a sense of community and working collaboratively.
Through TechWomen programs, fellows from countries in these target regions come to Silicon Valley to partner with colleagues for learning and networking opportunities, and women from Silicon Valley companies travel abroad to continue strengthening those partnerships. While overseas, the Silicon Valley participants share knowledge and advance cultural exchange—by visiting schools and universities to speak with students about pursuing STEM careers, holding workshops and networking with local women.
Two extraordinary individuals—Saura Naim and Rebecca Biswas—represented Juniper during their recent delegation trips to Nigeria and Egypt. We’re very proud to support these two passionate women who truly go above and beyond in their engagement with TechWomen.
Rebecca and Saura have been involved with the group for four years and three years, respectively. Below, they share their stories about this year’s delegation.
Rebecca Biswas’s Delegation Trip to Egypt
Being a part of the TechWomen program came full circle when I was nominated to represent Juniper at an Egypt delegation trip from February 25 to March 2, 2018. In total, there were 16 TechWomen mentors, representing 16 different Silicon Valley companies with the goal of motivating girls and women in Egypt to pursue STEM and empower them to reach their full potential. We reached more than 700 women and girls, not to mention a whole host of men who were also present and engaged at our events, making this TechWomen delegation trip very successful!
The women we interacted with and our delegation trip mentors were from all different areas. We covered many different issues, ranging from the importance of mentorship to trending topics in Silicon Valley like open source, big data and artificial intelligence.
Since TechWomen first started in 2011, we have grown to a total of 37 Egyptian TechWomen alumni, many of whom were part of this delegation trip. Several of these women have become social entrepreneurs, impacting hundreds of young women, working mothers and underprivileged people through NGOs. It is a proud moment for us to see the impact that these alumni are making in Egypt. These are the same women we empowered when they came to Silicon Valley for a 5-week-long program, and many were hosted by Juniper. TechWomen provides an opportunity for us to not only learn and experience risk-taking and innovation, but also how to make a difference in people’s lives and give back to our society.
I have always wanted to make a difference in inspiring the next generation of women leaders, but didn’t know how to do it. In 2014, my Juniper team trusted me to mentor a mechanical engineering entrepreneur from Lebanon as a part of the TechWomen program, and I got hooked! In the past four years, I have mentored women from Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Egypt and Pakistan. Without the support of my Juniper team, this would all not be possible.
Saura Naim’s Delegation Trip to Nigeria
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take my mentoring commitment to a new level when I was selected to participate in a U.S. State Department delegation trip to Nigeria. There was something rather magical about the intimacy of the small team of 11 Silicon Valley TechWomen mentors with whom I travelled that allowed us to connect so directly and personally with a broad set of women and girls in Africa.
I promoted STEM among middle school girls from a boarding school in Abuja by leading them through a session on design thinking and then teaching them about motherboards through a hands-on workshop. This led to a powerful connection with the headmaster of their school who is making a difference as lieutenant colonel in the Nigerian Navy. The next day, I was standing in front of 700 university students in Ota doing a lightning talk about why women belong in STEM and leadership, and then the next day I was sharing my thoughts about the power of collaboration as a panelist alongside women from Nigeria in front of an audience of female entrepreneurs in Abuja.
Throughout this journey, I built new bridges with every engagement along the way, opening doors and inspiring girls and women to strive to pursue STEM, to aspire to be leaders and to empower their dreams. A special thanks to Juniper for continuing to support me to give back in such a meaningful way.
We as a company are committed to building the global pipeline of women in STEM and we’re thrilled to be able to partner with organizations like TechWomen to do just that. If you’d like to learn more about our efforts, you can visit here for more information.