NextGen TechCamp Central Asia empowers women of Kazakhstan in STEM

Photo credit: Diana Bizhanova/ Kazinform
Photo credit: Diana Bizhanova/ Kazinform

NextGenTechCamp Central Asia, organized by the United States Embassy in Kazakhstan, will take place on April 11-13 in Astana. The event aims to strengthen women's participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Central Asia and Pakistan, as well as promote economic diversification, reports Kazinform news agency correspondent.

The master class brought together 50 graduates of the TechGirls and TechWomen programs from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. Experienced trainers provide training for the participants.

International experts, including Shelley Taylor from Trellyz, Melina Taprantzi from Wise Greece, Ada Storey from 621 Consulting and Taylor Thomas from Meta, will share their experience and knowledge with the participants.

Over the course of three days, participants will engage in discussions on a wide range of topics crucial for a successful career in STEM, including artificial intelligence, effective marketing strategies, fundraising, and project development.

The camp will not only enrich participants' knowledge but also provide an opportunity to collaborate on solutions for pressing societal issues, such as climate change, gender-based violence, and space exploration.

Photo credit: Diana Bizhanova/ Kazinform
Ambassador Rosenblum. Photo credit: Diana Bizhanova/ Kazinform

Addressing the opening of the camp, Daniel Rosenblum, the U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan, highlighted the pivotal role of the NextGen TechCamp in fostering a robust community of extraordinary women in STEM.

"Each of you — whether you are a student or a CEO, a researcher or a telecommunications expert, a startup founder or an aerospace engineer — are shaping both the present and the future of STEM," the ambassador said

Drawing inspiration from the success of exchange programs like TechGirls and TechWomen, the ambassador emphasized the invaluable knowledge and networks gained through these initiatives.

"The NextGen TechCamp represents a continuation of this journey to draw on the skills and insights that each of you bring to the table," he added.

Despite persistent challenges such as gender bias and limited opportunities, Rosenblum expressed optimism about initiatives like TechGirls, TechWomen, and the NextGen TechCamp in dismantling barriers and promoting equitable participation in economic growth.

Photo credit: Diana Bizhanova/ Kazinform
Photo credit: Diana Bizhanova/ Kazinform

The conference was organized with the support of Anar Badyrlenova, chairwoman of the National Alumni Network.

“We see that this is actually a cool event that gives women the opportunity to get to know each other, share some insights, communicate and ultimately make projects,” she told Kazinform.

Focusing on the rise of women in STEM, she stressed the importance of support and motivation.

"The Tech Girls and Tech Women programs are becoming more and more popular. They have not existed for very long, but they are among the top most interesting programs. Every year the number of profiles increases, which means that women are more progressive, more active, they believe more in themselves. (...) The main goal is to maintain that motivation, to fire it up. (...) Through such events, on the contrary, we motivate them even more, and show them, highlight that there are so many opportunities in the world," she said.

She also noted that the program will continue after the conference, including additional online training and opportunities for obtaining grants for the implementation of projects. Badyrlenova emphasized the importance of creating a platform for women in STEM and supporting their motivation.

Photo credit: Diana Bizhanova/ Kazinform
Photo credit: Diana Bizhanova/ Kazinform

The programs - TechGirls and TechWomen - are overseen by the United States Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

TechGirls, launched in 2012, extends its support to young women aged 15-17 from Kazakhstan, among other countries, offering them access to training and mentorship.

In 2023, the program sponsored 111 participants from 35 countries, including Kazakhstan, for a dynamic four-week U.S.-based experience followed by a seven-month mentoring program. TechWomen, on the other hand, focuses on promoting STEM development for women globally, with over 1,000 women from Kazakhstan having participated in its initiatives over the past 12 years.

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