We spoke with Anar Simpson, founder of Parallel Earth and phenomenal mentor for women and girls in STEM during our #womenwhotech Google+ Hangout on Air series recently. Here are some of the highlights from the conversation and the link to watch the hangout.
Anar’s career has followed the “squiggly line”:
With a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Communications, Anar’s career has been a mix of shipping product, working in IT with big companies, and teaching.
You can give back and receive more through tech:
Anar gets her highs from helping startups, and mentoring young women entering tech and likes to go to hackathons! She is a global ambassador for Iridescent Learning’s Technovation Challenge and professional and cultural mentor for the US State Department’s TechWomen program, now in its third year. “These technical women (from the MENA region and sub-Saharan African countries) are here to learn from us and we’re learning from them. The talent I saw on the stage at the Juniper Aspiration Dome last week, sent shivers down my spine.” One woman from Rwanda particularly struck Anar. “She is young, sharp, and competent–I wouldn’t be surprised if she becomes the President of Rwanda in twenty years.”
Anar is working to have girls produce, not only consume mobile technology:
Through the Technovation Challenge, mentors like Anar are teaching girls, through a 12-week after-school program, how to make mobile apps to solve problems in their communities. Out of 150 groups and apps developed last year, the New York team took first place. They received 10K to get their app developed for the Android app store.
Simple systems can help you scale globally:
Anar’s company, Parallel Earth started as a gaming company and then transitioned into a social media aggregation company. “We were biting off more than we could chew so we pivoted… our current site has a curation dashboard for social media conversations around events. For example, if we create an event for Ada Lovelace Day, all of the conversation from various social media platforms could be featured on our site under the Ada Lovelace page. In addition, Parallel Earth works for internal corporate events by providing enterprises with the ability to monitor and curate the conversation.” Anar is enthusiastic about Technovations’ platform which is inherently a MOOC in that anyone anywhere can use it and the curriculum model is clean and easy to set up, which is why the it has been able to scale globally relatively quickly.
For the young and old: there are multiple resources to turn to if you’re interested in getting involved in tech:
Communities/Platforms for Learning: Iridescent Learning, Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code, Hopscotch, Skillcrush, Tech Mums, Women 2.0, and Lean In circles.
Raine Dalton is WIM’s editorial and community innovation intern. Raine is passionate about finding creative ways to empower women globally through tech. In addition to WIM, Raine has written, tweeted, and posted for the Global Banking Alliance for Women, WITNESS, and 90.7 WFUV News. You can find her work at her website or get in touch with her through Twitter.