Recently in Bangkok the International Association of Universities (IAU), the UNESCO-based association of higher education institutions, held its 15th General Conference that takes place every four years. The event brings together its nearly 700 institutional and organizational members from around the world to focus on pressing matters facing global higher education. As an affiliate member, IIE participated in the event with team members represented from both the Bangkok and New York offices.
The focus of the conference was to exchange strategies and practices that demonstrate how HEIs contribute to innovation and sustainability. Offering macro perspectives from leaders in education across the globe, the three-day conference included a platform for HEIs to discuss what they can do to lead and be catalysts for change in a continuously changing global landscape.
What would the world look like if girls were encouraged to be dreamers, tinkerers and makers? What if female students were truly supported, mentored and nurtured? What if women the world over had the same educational and professional opportunities as men?
Through WeTech, we not only envision this world—we work to actively build it.
In 2013, IIE and its consortium of private sector and NGO partners made a real commitment to creating an employee pipeline of girls and women into the technology sector. Launched as a commitment to action at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, the Women Enhancing Technology program (WeTech) is a set of innovative activities that provides training and builds networks for girls and women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) across the world. For the past three years, WeTech has opened up new life possibilities for young females, preparing them for and connecting them to STEM opportunities. The work is ongoing. But three years in, we pause to take stock of the tremendous impact WeTech has made thus far.
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 exchange opportunities foster leadership, innovation, curiosity and compassion. Participants return from abroad with a commitment to positively transform society through peaceful global connections and a determination to solve some of the world's most pressing issues through innovation and collaboration. Read about five distinguished alumni of scholarships managed or administered by IIE whose international experiences gave them the courage and knowledge to forge new discoveries and change the world.
With over 150 attendees, this year’s Colloquium on International Engineering Education attracted the largest number of participants ever, as well as many first-time attendees and veterans in the field of engineering education. The two day Colloquium organized by IIE and DAAD in New York City brought together representatives of more than 100 universities, including over 25 foreign institutions, that are currently training the next generation of global engineers, as well as NGO and government leaders to examine topics related to engineering education and preparing students for the engineering workforce.
Zina Ammar grew up in Gafsa, Tunisia, where she learned how to make the region’s famous Margoum carpets from the women in her family. Zina eventually started her own carpet-making business, but her lack of confidence and business skills limited her success. Hoping to grow her business, Zina enrolled in Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Financial Education trainings at the Women's Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) Center for Women’s Business Development in her community.
Chadleya Idriss began making toys for her children using recycled wood, which was “safer, more environmentally friendly, and more affordable than store-bought toys,” she explains. Chadleya went to the WES Center for Women’s Business Development in Kairouan, Tunisia, with a dream of starting a toy business. She participated in the WES entrepreneurship training and worked closely with the WES Center staff to conduct market research on the local toy industry. Last November, Chadleya launched her new business, Toy Story.
Today, women make up 12 percent of all computer science grads. Just three decades ago, they represented 37 percent. They’re half the workforce, but hold only a quarter of technical or computing jobs.
According to “Entrepreneurship Education and Training Programs Around the World—Dimensions for Success,” a 2014 study of entrepreneurship education programs around the globe by the World Bank, entrepreneurship is “the largest single source of new job growth in both developed and developing economies.” Therefore, a few weeks ago I was thrilled to see this idea in action when I attended the Eastern European regional finals of “Get in the Ring” (GITR), which took place in Sofia, Bulgaria.
A recent episode of NPR’s popular broadcast Morning Edition, deplored the fact that 5.8 million young Americans are neither in school nor work. What’s more, according to the show, in some parts of the United States, “the unemployment rate among 16 to 24 year-olds is more than twice the national unemployment rate, which is currently 6.3 percent.” However, youth unemployment is not only a U.S. problem.