This August, 36 young women pursuing undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from universities across India and China completed the first year of the WeTech Qualcomm Global Scholars Program, an exciting new initiative made possible through Qualcomm’s support.
During the program, each Scholar received financial assistance through a US$5,000 scholarship and also had the unique opportunity to be mentored for a six-month period by a Qualcomm professional to further enhance her professional development and leadership skills.
As the Program Officer for Women Enhancing Technology (WeTech), administered by the Institute of International Education, I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in this program since its inception in 2015 and see the transformation of these young women throughout the course of their mentorships.
International education is increasingly being viewed as a means to developing human capital and cultivating leaders that can drive change and progress, especially in developing countries. Fellowships, study abroad, global research and internship programs are examples of international education exchanges. Through an exchange of students and young professionals across national borders, these higher education opportunities provide access to relevant knowledge and skills necessary for having an impact of policymaking and for a career in public affairs.
While the impact on recipients’ career and personal development is indisputable, evidence on the impact on the national public sphere, particularly in marginalized communities, has yet to be ascertained. How can international fellowship and scholarship programs influence policymaking? Can alumni of such programs foster change at a local, national, and global level by serving as key agents in government institutions?
What does it take to turn a dream into reality? Reflecting on various scholars, fellows and young leaders that I have worked with in the past and more specifically at the Institute of International Education, I have come up with the following items.
Mine actually began last week in Munich. Thanks to our Global E3 program, which promotes exchanges in engineering fields, and which IIE’s Peggy Blumenthal and Sabeen Altaf have expanded to include 70 members. The Global Alliance of Technological Universities invited me to speak at their annual forum for presidents and high-level officers to examine issues of science and technology education and research. The topic was “Internationalization of Higher Education in the Globalized Economy: Motivation, Strategies and Sharing of Best Practices,” and this year's host was the Technical University of Munich.
With the accelerating growth of engineering-related jobs globally and the predicted shortage of equipped employees, engaging more women is critical to both bridging the talent gap and providing companies with the diverse skills and perspectives necessary to thrive.
In most higher education discourse today it is not unusual to hear the claim that the world’s center of gravity is shifting toward the East. Indeed, no region has undergone as profound a transformation as Asia during the past half-century, from the 1970s to the present. Unprecedented economic growth has driven major social and demographic change and institutional reform and, in most countries, has brought about greater stability. The advent of a large middle class, coupled with openness and market reforms driven by economic imperatives, has contributed to greater interconnectedness among Asian states and between them and the rest of the world.
There were no fancy accessories, no expensive props, and no high expectations. The simple, honest exhibitions of dance, song, testimonials, and speeches could only witness joy, pleasure, pride, and a deep desire to continue to excel.
The Verizon Innovative Learning Program (VILP) has achieved yet another milestone! Forty Verizon volunteers—women employees at the Chennai and Hyderabad offices in South India—went through a kick-start workshop to begin the mentoring process for VILP girls. Through interactive, back-to-back workshops at two locations, mentors were briefed about the program, and they discussed their hopes and fears for the mentoring process. In order to develop a deeper understanding about their role as mentors, participants reflected upon occasions when they themselves had been mentored. Finally the group discussed the nuts and bolts of the mentoring process under VILP.
Much has happened in the Verizon Innovative Learning Program (VILP) in last two months, including a few initial milestones. The teachers’ workshop was completed in Chennai, and 200 girls have been selected for the program. The girls were chosen based on their motivations and interest in the program and their economic and educational vulnerability. It surely is a matter of pride and responsibility for these girls as they embark on their journey with us. We are very excited!