Increasing Our Pledge for Women’s Success3 min read
March is celebrated as Women’s History Month, also marking International Women’s Day on the 8th. It is an occasion for us to take a look at our past and acknowledge and honor all the women who have influenced our lives and our history, all the strong and powerful women who have made a lasting mark at the American University of Armenia (AUA). This month, the University pays special homage to our founding benefactor Louise Manoogian Simone, who was instrumental in the establishment and continuance of AUA.
We also pay tribute to the wives of AUA founders who have been staunch supporters of the University and to the current AUA president, Dr. Karin Markides, the first woman to lead our institution.
The impressive rank of so many distinguished women, whose names are etched in the history of the first thirty years of the University, will undoubtedly inspire others to bear the AUA torch in support of its mission. These women, named or unnamed, serve as shining examples of altruism, dedication, and unrelenting educational pursuit for the current and future generations of AUA students.
On this occasion, we salute our female student and alumni population and wish them continued success in their educational, professional, and personal endeavors. As strong proponents of their academic success, AUA initiated the Yes, Armenian Women Can! Campaign to expand female students’ choices to pursue higher education in the fields of science and technology.
Recent data from the AUA Office of Institutional Research and Assessment shows comparative enrollment numbers between Fall 2020 and Fall 2018 (see the table below). The 51% increase in enrollment by female students in computer science and engineering degree programs attests to the campaign’s success in realizing its central goal.
These numbers are highly encouraging and a convincing reason to direct greater effort on positioning more women for public and private leadership above entry- or mid-level roles. Global Client Director at Equinix Christine Soussa, an AUA supporter and ChangeMaker, notes that while there is an increasing demand for women in entry- or mid-level corporate positions, the same can’t be said for senior and executive roles in sales, engineering, and product management, where the numbers are far less encouraging.
“In the technology industry, women are finally starting to break through these barriers,” Soussa says. “Supporting and investing in individuals so they can confidently and enthusiastically pursue executive leadership positions is critical. Ideally, success will be achieved when one’s identity is no longer important.”
Here, too, AUA has an essential role to play in filling the gender gap. By directing concerted effort to the Yes, Armenian Women Can! campaign, AUA will be able to address the relevant skills gap for women to achieve mastery in entrepreneurship, leadership, management, organizational and financial planning, and beyond.
AUA alumna Armine Galstyan (BAB ‘19) is a Principal at SmartGateVC and Managing Director of Hero House, the firm’s technology hub in Southern California. From her personal experiences with tech startup founders, she expounds, “The investment decisions we make at the fund are solely based on the assessment of the business and whether or not the founders are ready to build globally competitive technology ventures. We believe gender does not play a role in founders’ abilities. We would be happy to see more and more female founders in the Armenian tech scene. Building a business is hard work that requires multiple personal and professional qualities, such as persistence, flexibility, and a love for solving problems, regardless of one’s gender. We need to equip our students with those skills to help them on their way towards building strong ventures.”
The evolving role of women in society, along with the changing expectations and demands of the next generation of leaders in Armenia, are the central themes that shape our goals and restructure our activities. In addition to scholarship support for women studying science and engineering, AUA is expanding the same level of assistance to students majoring in business-related fields. With your attention and dedicated support, we will be able to meet the imperative of designing the next steps in higher education, effectively respond to the changing demands in Armenia, and record the progress we aim for, institutionally and collectively.
We look forward to you joining our efforts in this endeavor to help us reach and exceed our goals, together, on our path to greater triumph in education!
To learn more and lend your support, visit https://yawc.aua.am.
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.