TechWomen US inspired our ladies to brave the tech industry

Iskandar Space was host to seven (7) TechWomen mentors from the United States (US), in the coaching-networking programme, ‘Voices of Women from the Silicon Valley’. The event is organised by Startup Johor and supported by Google WomenWill Johor Chapter, and saw participants from women leaders in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as other keen professionals alike, who came for an educational evening on 13 August 2018.

TechWomen US is an initiative by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with a mission to increase mutual understanding between the people of the US and those of other countries by means of education and cultural exchange that assist in the development of peaceful relations.

Meanwhile, Google WomenWill is an initiative by Google to create economic opportunity for women everywhere, so that they can grow and succeed. By helping women make the most of technology to build skills, get inspired and connect with each other through trainings, events and advocacy, WomenWill aims to drive conversations promoting gender equality in order to benefit everyone.

Jennifer Kek of WomenWill Malaysia said the initiative aims to be a catalyst of economic opportunities for women, focusing on connecting women through technology and tools as well as events such as this. 

“We’re excited to bring about positive change and impact to the local women in the Johor region and by promoting gender equality, we are leading the ecosystem to benefit not just women, but their families, the community and our society as well,” said Kek. 

She added that there is an optimistic perspective of female entrepreneurs and with the government’s stance on innovation and the increase of women decision-makers both in the public and private sector may be low now, but has the potential to increase in the right direction.

The Johor ‘pit-stop’ was the second pit stop, in a series of planned events in Malaysia and is aimed to increase the number of women entrepreneurs in the Tech Industry, where invited speakers Erin Keeley, Rekha Pai, Diana Macais, Sandra Chen, Anika Kamath, Bianca Liendere and Maile Smith coached participants in smaller groups, world-café’ style in order for those present to engage with all of them. 

Each group was facilitated by a representative from Google WomenWill and discussed in topics relating to Entrepreneurship & Women, Tech Literacy & Women as well as Women’s Leadership & Role in the Industry.  

To-date, more than 500 women from 22 countries have participated in TechWomen programme in the US, and the delegation to Malaysia hopes to duplicate its mission to empower, connect and support the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) here.

Speaker Profiles

Diana Macias
With over 15 years of experience in the software development industry with a focus on User Experience and Mobile, Diana has worked in various environments ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Currently a Senior Engineering Manager at Twitter, Diana was named one of 2017’s 20 Most Influential Latinos in Tech by CNET en Espanol. 

Rekha Pai
An investor, mentor and advisor to several startups at Standford Angels and Entrepreneurs (SA&E) where she is the current Vice President and Partner at Silicon Valley Social Ventures (, Rekha has over 15 years of experiences in various project management, marketing and product development positions at companies such as Symantec Corp, Applied Materials, Sun Microsystems as well as Procket Networks. 

Erin Keeley
An engineer, investor, mother and passionate advocate for STEM education and the economic empowerment of women. She has been a Technology Executive in Silicon Valley for two decades, leading operation teams and engineers for Hitachi, IBM, Western Digital in the US, Mexico, Europe and Asia. For the past five years, Erin has been a Techwomen Mentor and Technovation Mentor & Judge.

Sandra Chen 
Currently working on hardware infrastructure at Facebook as a supply chain operations sourcing manager, Sandra is dedicated to TechWomen’s mission of connecting STEM professionals, academics, students, and aspiring STEM women in order to make a better world for tomorrow’s generation. As a passionate learner and attentive listener, she serves on the National Association of Manufacturer’s Manufacturing Institute board to focus young talent into the manufacturing field and shares interesting findings with the Carnegie Council.

Bianca Liederer
A Ph. D holder from the University of Kansas in pharmaceutical chemistry and a senior scientist at Genentech who specialises in drug discovery and development, Bianca is currently leading the interdisciplinary project teams to identify, optimise and develop drugs across multiple therapeutic areas. Dr. Liederer is an active member of a cross functional working group to ensure safe conduct of Phase 1 studies. She is the author or co-author of over 100 manuscripts, book chapters and abstracts. She is also an active and proud member of TechWomen to empower women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Anika Kamath 
A rising freshmen at MIT, with a major in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Anika is a National Merit Scholar and was awarded by the Bay Area ‘Aspirations in Computing’ from the National Centre for Women In Technology and was inducted to Cum Laude Honor Society for her academic achievements. She presented the poster session of 229th meeting of AAS (American Astronomical Society) and was a semi-finalist in the Siemen’s 2016 Science competition. As an intern at Collaborative Haptics And Robotics in Medicine Laboratory at Stanford University, she designed and prototyped a wearable haptic device to improve human dexterity.

Maile Smith
Maile is the Principal Geologist at Northgate Environmental Management and an active Techwomen Mentor. Working in both the public and private sector, she assists clients on a wide range of environmental characterisation, restoration as well as risk management challenges with a focus on sustainable environment restoration and urban redevelopment. She evaluates and incorporates sustainability principles into engineering projects and procurements including, materials, resource evaluation, water reuse and productive public involvement and outreach.

For future events, stay updated on Startup Johor and Iskandar Space's social media pages.

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