Five inspiring Middle Eastern women in tech

Editorial team 

It is not uncommon in many technology companies for females to be outnumbered by their male counterparts. That said, in the Middle East 35% of tech entrepreneurs are women, compared to the global norm of 10%.

Still, while we are ahead globally, woman remain underrepresented, so it makes sense that closing the gender gap is on the agenda for many governments. At the same time, Microsoft has been driving programs such as Microsoft YouthSpark and DigiGirlz that empower women to step up in the S.T.E.M. fields as well as inspire them to pursue their passions in the field.

On International Women’s Day (8 March 2016), we want to put the spotlight on the leading ladies who are transforming our world through technology. Here is a list of five inspiring women in tech:

  1. Hind Hobeika is the CEO of Beirut-based startup, Instabeat, which was named one of Forbes’ Hottest Global Startups of 2013. The wearable device has been specifically designed for swimmers and is positioned to become a global leader. It is the first waterproof monitor that tracks, stores and displays information about a swimmer’s heart rate in real time to help swimmers optimise their performance. Hind is thought of as a great entrepreneur from the Middle East region who has innovated and designed a product with global potential.
  2. Head of Development for Israel’s Arrow 3 missile defence program, Inbal Kreiss, heads the team in the Systems Missiles and Space group of Israel Aerospace Industries that is developing the most advanced missile defence system in the world. The Arrow 3 is an anti-ballistic missile system that serves the Israeli defence concept of intercepting and destroying incoming threats. In 2010 she was awarded the Technological Entrepreneurship Award at the International Aerospace Conference in Israel.
  3. With women only making up 3.1% of the Lebanese parliament, Jessica Obeid was inspired to form a mentorship program paving the way for Lebanese women to get involved in politics. Having spent time in the US Department of State-funded TechWomen Program, Jessica, who is passionate about public diplomacy, used her experience to form MentorSHE. Since its launch in November 2014, mentors and mentees have participated in training on media and communication, advocacy and lobbying, and political economy.
  4. There’s little wonder that Maxine Fassberg was inducted into the Women in Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame in June 2009. She holds the titles of Vice President of the Technology and Manufacturing Group, General Manager of Intel Israel and Fab 28 Plant Manager for the Intel Corporation. She was awarded the Israel Industry Award from the Manufacturers Association of Israel in 2011, and in 2012 she was awarded the Hugo Ramniceanu Prize in Economics as well as being identified as one of the 10 most powerful women in tech by CNN.
  5. Rana el Kaliouby saw a serious shortcoming when it came to computers: they’re good with information, but oblivious to feelings. The MIT Media Lab scientist decided to close that gap by coming up with technologies that help computers recognise facial expressions and other physical indicators of how someone is feeling. The technology has the potential to become a critical component in advertising, as well to help devices better understand what we want. Now Rana has co-founded a company called Affectiva in Massachusetts to commercialise the facial recognition technology.

In order to close the gender gap, we are committed to creating even more opportunities for women to innovate, create, and unlock the best opportunities for their future.

We are therefore excited to unveil our new patent program to empower young women to #MakeWhatsNext. Microsoft will partner with select young inventors, many of whom will be selected through our global Imagine Cup competition to help them secure a patent on their original invention or idea. Not only is this program unique to the industry, it empowers young women to realise their achievements and what’s possible in a future career.

For more inspirational stories of women in technology, watch this video: [View:]

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