Thursday, February 20, 2014

Women in Technology Part 2 of 4

Okay, fellow readers, let's continue on the Women in Technology Theme! This will take the place of another year I horrifically neglected to share something for International Women's Day (it's called being busy) and of course for my LS 560 course. 

This one comes from Fast Company Magazine that led me on a wild goosechase to find the full article. Which is usually the trend for this magazine. Fast Company comes to the house in my sister’s name, which is strange because she’s all into fashion…and this magazine is far from haut couture. Each glossy page is flooded with pictures of hipsters who wear clothing far too tight, paying $20 for a frap-crap-hold-the-fat-sprinkle-the-blood-of-laboures-iced-latte-but-not-latte coffee from Starbucks, with egos the size of China, talk about how they cannot poop without their iPhones.

But like with every publication, if you sift through the garbage, you might find something interesting.

So this issue surprisingly had an snip-it of an article about Middle Eastern women in computer science which took me forever to find it on their website.

Image from Fast Company.

So other than bitter cold and the Winter Olympics, St. Petersburg, Russia hosted a computer convention That Microsoft puts out called the Imagine Cup.  There waltzes in a group of Arab women from Oman and Qatar, and people are surprised that the female gender from the Middle East can do more than just produce babies and wear hijab. 

Asya al-Jabrl, 22 year old student from Muscat, Oman had a crying frustrated 9 year old cousin who couldn’t learn. His tears moved her and after he got tested for dyslexia, she gathered two other students (Marwa al-Habsi and Safa Almukhaini, both 22) and created ReadX. It won them a spot at the Microsoft sponsored event.

Another group of women from Qatar came led by Latifa al-Naimi, a 20 year old computer science student from Qatar University. Her team developed Artouch, a device that allows museum-goers to connect with artifacts on exhibit in her country. 

Sheika al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani

 It was inspired by Sheika al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the former Emir of Qatar, who has plastered the pages of Bloomberg Business Week and Forbes magazine as the “art culture queen of the world”. She has developed the art culture in Qatar, emphasizing its education.


The attendees of the event seemed surprised, but the female teams did not see anything special about it. Both said that back home, coding is taught starting in high school for anyone to pursue, and that they do not care if they work in an all-female team or a mixed one with boys.

Even though Imagine cup welcomes teams from the participating 71 countries, only 3 teams had women in them – one from Oman, Qatar, and the last one from Portugal.

What, wait? Seriously? America, I expected better. :/ Shouldn’t we be leading innovation created by women? Isn’t that what we try to portray to the world, that we value our educated women??? Guess not.

In the same article, as they continued on about how the Gulf States, are really pushing for their women to be educated, it moved back to us, in the US. It shared an image that went viral in June 2013 from an Apple Convention in San Francisco. As you can see, there are no women in line to use the bathroom.
Image by: Dan Akerman/CNET
Hrm, take what you want from the photo, but means a lot when women were there at computer science’s inception, creating languages and computers. Why are movies and books about jerks like Steve Jobs getting fandom like he was a god? Strong dedicated women get forgotten, but foul-tempered narcissists get recognized? What kind of a message are we sending to both girls and boys who represent our future?

Something wrong with this picture (literally and figuratively).

Thanks to (LS 560 Info):

Lemon, Gayle Tzemach. (2013) Arab Women's Tech Advantage: Middle Eastern countries sent two all-female teams to Microsoft's Imagine cup this year. That's not as surprising as it sounds. Fast Company. Retrieved from

Microsoft Imagine Cup. (2014) Retrieved from

Qatar’s Culture Queen Mar. (2012) The Economist. Retrieved from