An Egyptian-American female software engineer who seeks equality in her male-dominated industry has been named among the brightest young entrepreneurs by Forbes magazine.
Dina Ayman, 27, appears on Forbes’s 2022 list of the most promising entrepreneurs under the age of 30 in various sectors.
Ayman works as a programme manager at Microsoft and is the youngest faculty member in the College of Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She was included in Forbes’s enterprise technology category for North America.
The magazine described Ayman as “an Egyptian-America advocate for diversity and inclusion”.
Ayman told Al-Fanar Media she was surprised just to be nominated for the list, the first of three stages before being chosen. “I was very happy just to be nominated,” she said. “I did not expect to reach the final list. This is a great responsibility I am proud of.”
In an official statement published by Al-Akhbar newspaper, Nabila Makram, Egypt’s minister of immigration, said: “Dina Ayman is a source of pride for Egyptian women abroad. She is a unique and inspiring model who embodies the empowerment of women and youth at the same time.”
She added that Ayman “has been able to achieve several successes in technology and become influential in U.S. society”.
Enhancing Egypt’s image
Ayman met the minister last year while on a visit to Egypt. Makram is keen to promote the achievements of expatriate Egyptian women, to enhance the country’s image and to help empower women.
“From the seventh grade, my dream was to become an engineer. I enjoyed studying math and physics and that’s what engineering meant to me.”Dina Ayman
In a Facebook post last May, sharing a post by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Ayman said: “From the seventh grade, my dream was to become an engineer. I enjoyed studying math and physics and that’s what engineering meant to me,”
Despite her parents’ concerns that “engineering is not a field for women” and that “the world might not allow a woman like her—an Egyptian-American Muslim—to be an engineer”, Ayman kept dreaming.
“She is also a fierce advocate for diversity and inclusion in the technology industry, and she inspires and motivates countless female students,” the embassy added.
Ayman said she does not believe that software engineering should be “the preserve of men”. Although they make up only 7 percent of graduates in the field, “women can do everything and go into all majors,” she said.
The embassy said her advocacy for diversity and inclusion was “an integral part of her project with the support of major institutions, such as Microsoft.”
No Forbidden Field
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Ayman said: “There is no forbidden field for women, and a persevering woman can enter and compete in everything done by men and even become a pioneer.”
Ayman’s passion for mathematics and physics led her to study computer engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the same year (2018) was “my first scientific achievement,” she said.
“In the beginning, I studied medicine, as my father wished, but I did not complete the study because another dream in another field moved me,” she continued. “All areas of life are controlled by technology. I longed to penetrate this field and navigate its secrets.”
After graduation, she joined the American company Intel before moving to Microsoft.
Ayman considers herself lucky to combine her technology with academic work.
“Dina Ayman is a source of pride for Egyptian women abroad. She is a unique and inspiring model who embodies the empowerment of women and youth at the same time.”Nabila Makram
Egypt’s minister of immigration
“I love both,” she told Al-Fanar Media. “Perhaps I find working in technology a little closer to me than academia. But I like to approach and engage with engineering students at the university.”
She added: “I feel I am making a contribution in the technology industry, which is close to my heart. I love to lead my team of software engineers to create the future.”
But she has other ambitions, too. “I dream of holding a diplomatic position to help me reach the women who suffer from discrimination around the world,” she said.
Campaigner Against Rural Poverty
Forbes also noted that Ayman “was recently named ambassador of Hayah Karima (Decent Life), an initiative created by Egypt’s president to help alleviate poverty in the country”.
The initiative aims to raise living standards and provide better health services, education, water and sanitation to the poorest villages. According to the United Nations, it has brought benefits to 20 percent of the population of Egypt.
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Forbes is one of the best-known American business magazines. Founded in 1917, it is famous for its lists of the richest and best-performing companies.
In 2011, it published its first “30 under 30” list for North America. The list has since expanded to cover other continents and now includes more than 600 names in dozens of different categories.
The first exclusively Arab list appeared three years ago. It included seven women and 12 Egyptians.
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