Celebrating the Month by Increasing Our Pledge for Women’s Success

March is Women’s History Month, which also celebrates International Women’s Day. A month when we take a look at our past and acknowledge and honor all those women who have influenced our lives and our history, all those strong and powerful women who have made a lasting mark at 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. 

Louise Manoogian Simone at the first AUA Commencement Ceremony, 1993

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.

Dr. Karin Markides at AUA’s 2021 Commencement Ceremony

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 strong support of the mission of the University. 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. These women serve as impetus for self-discovery and growth, but also to carry forward their accomplishments of social change further increasing parity for women and girls. 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 had initiated the Yes, Armenian Women Can! Campaign, expanding 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 below table). The 51% increase in enrollment by female students in computer science and engineering degree programs attests to the success we are recording in achieving the central goal of the Yes, Armenian Women Can! campaign. 

These numbers are very encouraging and a strong reason to direct greater effort on getting more women positioned for public and private leadership above entry or mid-level roles. Christine Soussa, AUA supporter and ChangeMaker, who is Global Client Director at Equinix, 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 than encouraging. “In the technology industry, women are finally starting to break through these barriers,” Soussa says, advocating for more diversity. “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,” says Soussa. 

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 would 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 the firm’s technology hub in Southern California, Hero House. 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 the founders are ready to build globally competitive technology ventures or not. 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 to 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 support 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, to effectively respond to the changing demands in Armenia, and to record the progress we aim for, institutionally and collectively. 

We look forward to seeing you join our efforts in this regard and help us reach and exceed our goals, together, on our path for greater triumphs in education! 

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