Girls got IT!
LAU’s School of Engineering supports workshop dedicated to bridging the gender gap in technology-related fields.
Fatima Hamdan chose to ignore the many comments made on her career path when she enrolled in Computer Engineering at LAU. “I was advised to choose business, or any other program,” she says. “We still live in a society that thinks women should choose the easy track.”
Her courage paid off as she was elected chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Student Branch and took part in the organization of successful events that attracted large numbers of participants. “When I graduated, I decided to continue on this same path,” says Hamdan, who concluded her studies at LAU in 2014.
Her desire to counter stereotypes and her skills in planning events were combined to create “Girls Got IT”, a workshop held mid-March which brought together 400 girls from public and private schools for a full day of hands-on activities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics – otherwise known as STEAM.
During the workshop – which took place at the Dbayeh Convention Center – students engaged in various activities and experimented with different facets of engineering in around 20 practical and technical break-out sessions.
LAU’s team provided hands-on experience in robotic and embedded systems allowing participants to create small-scale robots by the end of the event. Engineering Associate Professor Barbar Akle led the workshop in collaboration with the Robotics Club.
A series of speeches aimed at presenting female role models in this professional field were also scheduled.
“The goal of this event is to inspire girls to challenge the stereotypes and go for what they really want, if they feel they have a talent for it,” says Hamdan, who now chairs the IEEE Women in Engineering Lebanon section. Four other women’s organizations – namely the Lebanese League for Women in Business (LLWB), the Arab Women in Computing Lebanon Chapter (ArabWIC Lebanon), Women in IT (WIT), and the Digital opportunity Trust – took part in the organization of the event.
The goal was certainly met in the case of Nour Safieddine, a grade 11 student from the Beirut Baptist School who was part of the team that won the robotics competition and a partial scholarship at LAU. “I discovered that I can do things I never thought I could,” says Safieddine, who expressed pride at designing her first robot. “Now I am even more certain that I want to study engineering.”