TechWomen 2018: Promoting Women in STEM in the Developing World


What happens when 100 incredibly talented women in STEM from 20 developing countries get together in one room to address critical problems in their communities? Impassioned discussions. A palpable buzz of energy and optimism. A rising confidence that their technical leadership and innovative ideas can make a difference. It’s inspiring and humbling to watch.

It’s October and #TechWomen2018 is in full swing. This year along with Cecile Thirion and Bharathy Srinivasan, I am serving as an Impact Coach helping six amazing women from Kyrgyzstan formulate an impact project to take back home. Together with 62 other Impact Coaches as well as 104 professional and cultural mentors from 34 host companies, we will spend the next month with our Emerging Leader teams making connections, coaching, guiding, and helping them realize their potential as leaders and change agents.

Our six Kyrgyzstan Emerging Leaders represent the fields of software engineering, civil engineering, technical education, digital media, data and analytics. They’re teachers, entrepreneurs, business analysts, developers and project managers. In our first impact coaching sessions they have been working together to define a problem in Kyrgyzstan and forge a solution suited to their unique combination of skills and experience. They will continue refining their project over evening and weekends, all while working at professional internships at their host companies during the day.

And the result? TechWomen in the Bay Area culminates in a final pitch session before a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs and influencers. Winning pitch teams receive seed grants to kick start their initiatives. But all teams benefit, sowing seeds that will bloom in the future. Then back to their home countries where the experiences, contacts and relationships forged during TechWomen will endure well beyond a few weeks in the Bay Area.


  • TechWomen empowers, connects and supports the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East by providing them the access and opportunity needed to advance their careers, pursue their dreams, and inspire women and girls in their communities.
  • TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State and administered by IIE.


By Chris Duran (