Griffith University alumnus Fatimah Almathami aims to inspire young females in the Middle East to get involved in STEM.
While Saudi Arabia is known for its male-led workforce, by 2030 the country has set a goal to boost numbers of employed women from 22 per cent to 30 per cent.
Fatimah hopes to empower more girls in her birth country to aim for careers in information technology (IT) through Australian initiative, Techgirls.
“I loved technology since I was a child, but honestly, I never thought I would end up studying IT, it was just a hobby to me,” Fatimah said.
“Techgirls is important because it aims to transform young female futures and encourage equity in the technology industry.
“Tech is the future.”
Fatimah was recently recognised with a Rising Star Award for Student Impact by Association for Computing Machinery’s Council on Women in Computing for her work on Techgirls in Saudi Arabia.
Her Techgirls initiative campaigns for a future where women lead and innovate across STEM fields, bringing broader social and economic benefits.
It targets normative gender stereotypes through programs for girls aged 7-17 through mentoring, industry partnerships, collaboration with families and carers, while boosting their STEM skills.
The first step in the implementation of Techgirls in Saudi Arabia is the distribution of Tech Girls are Superheroes books, which portrays female STEM industry professionals carrying out problem solving as leaders in their field.
“The books get them excited and connected with technology in a way that is meaningful and life-changing,” Fatimah said.
“With global competitiveness, expansion and use of technology, it is expected that the recruitment of IT workers will be numerously expanded.
“We look to position these girls in a way that will be ready to take advantage of this expansion.”
Techgirls wasn’t even a thought when Fatimah arrived in Australia in 2008, planning to simply complete a degree before flying home.
“After commencing my Bachelor and experiencing how fantastic the education system in Australia is, I decided to stay and keep learning,” she said.
In 2018, Fatimah completed a Graduate Diploma of Research Studies in Information Technology at Griffith and was presented with a University Award for Academic Excellence during her studies.
“I love learning about the world around us, finding innovative solutions to real-world challenges and how tech in particular plays a role in our lives,” she said.
“STEM has infinite opportunities and helps us to discover news things related to our world and allows us to change the world for the better.
“My time at Griffith University was one of the most positive turning points in my life.”