From the Only Female in Class to a Leader in Tech
By Nisreen Deeb
My story began when I was at school and had no idea what is Computer Science, though I decided to pursue this major just because my brother did and he encouraged me and found the potential in me towards this major.
At the beginning, I faced a lot of criticism after choosing the Computer Science major. For example, are you crazy? Are you ready to spend hours in front of the PC and have no life? Are you ready to end up with a very thick eye glasses? Are you ready to ignore your social life? I faced all of this and more by persistence.
First day at the university was a key! I entered the class to find out that I am the only woman in a class over around 35 men! The days continued to be hard with many doubts and ups and downs. I was always making extra efforts to raise my voice, share my knowledge, ask questions, suggest ideas and it continued like that until I graduated with the highest GPA out of the faculty that had 4 women among 80 men. At this stage I recognized that nothing is impossible and being a woman in a man dominated field is just nothing when it comes to skills, knowledge, passion and capability.
At that moment my passion increased towards this field and I decided to pursue my MS degree in Computer Science in the finest university in Lebanon which I didn’t have the financial readiness for it, American University of Beirut. I had to work almost 20 hours and had only 4 hours of sleep for around 3 years. I was pursuing my MS courses and in parallel teaching at AUB and working as a senior software developer at my current work, MSC Lebanon.
An image was accompanying me in all my path which was having a class full of females in such courses, so I started working on my target which is having more women in Tech worldwide. Working on my target started in 2013 and still until today’s date at every second and every minute where I can inspire other girls and women to believe in themselves that they can reach any domain and any position they want and they are passionate about.
After all of these years that handled a lot of challenges, disappointments, fails, successes, and proud moments, I discovered that there is no difference between men and women. Women can achieve anything as long as they have the passion, the will, and the support. Support might be a family member, a friend, or any other role model especially women. If you are passionate about something, and even if you are the only female, just do it, seek help, ask other women, and provide help as well. At the end I always remember this quote by for Mrs. Madeleine Albright: "There is a special place in Hell for women who don’t help other women."
About the author: I am Nisreen Deeb from Lebanon, a computer scientist working as a System Analyst and a Social Entrepreneur and Co-Founder of many initiatives to empower the youth and the women in STEAM. I have 10 years of experience in the IT industry and currently managing the systems in the IT department of the second largest container carrier and cruise company in the world - MSC Lebanon. As I always seeks for new challenges, I am also an IT consultant for many companies and organizations to help them automate their workflows and turn them into systematic ones. I am involved in encouraging young women to appreciate STEAM and aspire to global reach through the power of technology, which is perceptible from me winning achievement in 2013 as a one of the top 5 TechWomen emerging leaders in Lebanon and spent five weeks in Silicon Valley. Techwomen experience allowed me to win the US department of states funding for my project, which is about teaching programming for grade 4 students. The opportunity that I had in Silicon Valley encouraged me to come back to my nation and provide an environment for Lebanese students and women to achieve their full potential, and hence Co-Founding Girls Got IT initiative, that is about teaching STEM skills to young girls from all areas in Lebanon by engaging the startup companies and the Eco-System, Founding the Arab Women in Computing Lebanon Chapter, being an active member in the LLWB STEM Committee, recently Co-Founding USALTECH (a community for TechWomen and TechGirls in Lebanon), and organizing many hackathons and events in Lebanon. I am known as a public speaker for women in IT and STEM from Lebanon where I had the opportunity to be a speaker and panelist in many events: Microsoft Ignite in Orlando, Women in STEM in Dubai, TechGirls launching event in Washington DC, universities' Techevents in Lebanon, and being a judge in Hult Prize competition in many universities in Lebanon.