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Press Release

Silicon Valley Leaders to Mentor Technical Women from the Middle East and North Africa through New Public-Private Partnership

The TechWomen initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

WASHINGTON, DC, September 29, 2010The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has launched TechWomen, a new initiative to enable women in the field of technology from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to reach their full potential. TechWomen is a professional mentorship and exchange program developed in response to President Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo calling for more collaborative efforts between the U.S. and the Middle East that harness the strength of global business, technology and education. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton first announced the TechWomen program on April 28th during President Obama’s Entrepreneurship Summit. The new initiative will be administered by the Institute of International Education and its West Coast Center in San Francisco, in partnership with the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

“TechWomen is a ground-breaking program that will empower women around the world. By pairing Middle Eastern professionals with their counterparts in Silicon Valley, this program combines several of Secretary Clinton’s priorities and supports advancement in the technology field,” said Ann Stock, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

TechWomen will leverage innovative technologies, cutting-edge content, and increasingly important social networking tools to foster mutual understanding and break through the isolation experienced by technical women in the Middle East, and to connect them with professional and personal mentors in the United States. The program will identify 38 women, aged 25-42, who are emerging leaders in technical fields in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the West Bank and Gaza, and bring them to the United States for a five-week, project-based mentoring program at leading technology companies in Silicon Valley. The women will be identified with a commitment to inclusion, including diverse representation of education levels, economic status, religion, and disability status.

TechWomen is a public-private partnership, with a number of leading U.S. technology companies committed to participating in the program, including Google, Facebook, CA Technologies, Cisco Systems, Microsoft Corporation, IBM, Yahoo!, Catapult Design, Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, and BASIC (Bay Area Science and Innovation Consortium) a consortium of more than 20 institutions including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, SRI International, Agilent Technologies, Symantec, and Sandia National Laboratories.  The Anita Borg Institute will provide scholarships for several of the women to attend its 2011 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world’s largest gathering of technical women.

Following the conclusion of the project-based mentorships in California, the group of 38 women will travel, along with American mentors, to Washington, DC. The participants will meet with DC-based organizations and companies, as well as Department of State officials. The Washington debrief will introduce the women to the technology industry’s collaboration and interaction with the federal government. The meetings will expand the participants’ networks and resources, and connect them with key professional organizations as well as groups focused on encouraging girls and women in technical fields.

Select U.S. technology experts will travel to the MENA region to provide follow-on training, mentoring and networking opportunities and provide a range of ongoing support for program alumnae. The program is designed to have long-term impact on the women, and a greater effect as they share their knowledge with colleagues back home as well as the next generation of technical women in their countries through lasting local and regional networks and ongoing relationships between these women and their mentors in the United States.

“TechWomen is an excellent example of an effective public-private partnership,” said Allan Goodman, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of International Education. “The training and mentoring activities will not only encourage women’s leadership and develop technical and business skills in the MENA region, but will also foster long-term relationships and cooperation across cultures.”

“The Anita Borg Institute is proud to be part of this crucial global initiative,” said Jody Mahoney, ABI’s Vice President of Corporate Partnerships. “We’re creating a global exchange of ideas, relationships and technologies through mentoring opportunities with our industry partners.” 

About the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly and peaceful relations, as mandated by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. ECA engages youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and rising leaders in many fields in the United States and more than 160 countries through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges. Striving to reflect the diversity of the United States and global society, ECA programs, funding, and other activities encourage the involvement of American and international participants from traditionally underrepresented groups, including women, racial and ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities. ECA exchange program alumni encompass over 1 million people around the world, including more than 40 Nobel Laureates and more than 300 current and former heads of state and government. For more information, visit

About the Institute of International Education (IIE)

The Institute of International Education collaborates with universities, governments, non-governmental organizations and corporations to develop and implement scholarship, exchange, and training programs that educate and build leadership skills among students, scholars, and professionals worldwide. These include the prestigious Fulbright and Humphrey Fellowship Programs and the International Visitor Leadership Program, administered on behalf of the U.S. Department of State in partnership with other countries, as well as more than 250 other initiatives that benefit over 26,000 men and women from 175 countries each year. IIE has extensive experience working with U.S Embassies and Missions around the world to implement high-profile programs to foster cross-cultural dialogue and public diplomacy on behalf of the U.S. government.

IIE is currently engaged in collaborative program initiatives in 16 countries/territories in the MENA region that reach over 7,000 students, scholars, and professionals each year to promote workforce development, good governance, and gender equity in the region. IIE programs utilize social media to connect emerging leaders worldwide to forge solutions to critical problems, and enhance networking among alumni. IIE’s MENA Regional Office in Cairo has also provided training in a wide range of fields to over 10,000 individuals from the public, private and NGO sectors. Through its West Coast Center (IIE/WCC) in San Francisco, IIE has extensive experience and success collaborating with the technology sector and local organizations, especially in the MENA region.

About the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

The Anita Borg Institute provides resources and programs to help industry, academia, and government recruit, retain, and develop women leaders in high-tech fields, resulting in higher levels of technological innovation. The Anita Borg Institute’s programs serve high-tech women around the world by creating a community and providing tools to help them develop their careers. The Anita Borg Institute is a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 charitable organization. The Institute’s partners include: Google, Microsoft, HP, CA Technologies, Cisco, First Republic Bank, IBM, Intel, Intuit, Lockheed Martin, National Science Foundation, National Security Agency, NetApp, SAP, Oracle, Symantec, Thomson Reuters, Wilson Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati, Motorola Foundation, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, and Raytheon. For more information, visit