TechWomen, an initiative led by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, aims to empower, connect, and support the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East.
Participants in the program, known as Emerging Leaders, are partnered with institutions to engage in project-based mentorships. Berkeley Lab has partnered with TechWomen for the past 10 years, hosting Emerging Leaders to receive mentorship from Berkeley Lab staff.
This year, two Emerging Leaders, Lucrece Matchim from Cameroon, and Zethu Gumede from South Africa, received mentorship at ABPDU from senior process engineer Dupeng Liu. Matchim was also mentored by Kadidia Konate from NERSC, and Gumede was also mentored by Virginia Altoe from the Molecular Foundry.
As part of the program, the Emerging Leaders immersed themselves in ABPDU’s daily operations through shadow days, allowing them to explore state-of-the-art bioscience research and learn more about biomanufacturing through researcher presentations and curated lab tours. Through panel and one-on-one discussions, ABPDU and Joint BioEnergy Institute staff shared personal experiences to help facilitate cultural understanding and provide professional guidance for the Emerging Leaders’ career development.
“Being mentored at ABPDU during the TechWomen program has been a transformative experience, allowing me to have an overview of the research and innovation happening in the lab,” said Emerging Leader Lucrece Matchim. “Through meetings with my mentor’s team and lab tours, I gained a deep understanding of how the work is organized and the significant contributions made by each unit. Additionally, meeting other scientists in other departments and speaking with female colleagues in STEM further inspired me. This mentorship experience has not only expanded my knowledge but has also reaffirmed my commitment to promoting inclusion and diversity.”
“My mentorship at ABPDU was both enlightening and insightful. Dupeng Liu helped integrate us into the office with various staff members. I enjoyed the opportunity to attend meetings, learn about employees’ career journeys, and consider how I can shape my own professional development,” said Emerging Leader Zethu Gumede. “I also discovered what it means to be a good mentor — paying attention to your mentee’s needs, exposing them to your networks and helping them build their skill sets. I look forward to taking these skills with me into my workplace.”