It is not secret that the education sector is undergoing a major transformation, fuelled by innovations and new technologies emerging in the industry. Notably, we talk about the variety of new ventures in EdTech in our blog here. However, much of this innovation can be attributed to brave women who are changing the face of the industry. Following the success of “Women in EdTech” Pitch Night series hosted by our Director Jamal Maxey, we sit down with Sara Abou Ibrahim - Experienced Educator, Mentor and Advisor - to find out more.
Could you tell us more about yourself and your professional journey?
I hold a MRes. in Education and Training, a MEd. in Education and Training, a MSc. in Physical Chemistry and Chemistry of Materials, and a BS in General Chemistry. I also have a certificate in Front End Web Development, a Training of Trainers certificate (TOT), and a Diploma in Therapeutic Teaching for Learning Disabilities Students. As for my professional experience, I am a university lecturer currently based in Lebanon, trainer (topics like Emotional Intelligence and Technology in Education and honored by many NGO’s for my contribution in delivering engaging training sessions), an education and science researcher, an educational consultant at Jobs for Lebanon, and teams and startups' mentor. I was a mentor at the MIT COVID19 Challenge – Hack4theFuture, mentor at the MIT Hacking Racism in Healthcare Challenge, mentor at the Lebanon Response Hackathon organized by FNF, and a mentor at Riyada for Social Innovation – Design the Future Post-COVID Hackathon. Added to this I was a board member and a campus ambassador at the MIT Arab Conference and a volunteer in Enterprising Oxford – #StartedinOxford Demo Day. In addition to that, I was a second place winner at the MIT Lebanon Challenge, Sub-track 3.B – Knowledge Economy, as part of the team behind “Campus for Lebanon”. I was also a previous Chemistry, Biology, and Physics instructor for elementary and secondary level and a math coordinator for elementary level (English and French sections).
What made you want to work in Education sector?
Actually, by the time I earned my BS in Chemistry, I started teaching intermediate and secondary students in both languages (French and English). I insisted on starting my teaching career although I was pursuing my masters studies because I am always eager to make a difference, and I believe that teachers are the main change makers in societies; and indeed, I devoted an ability in helping students to get excellent outcomes by integrating most accurate teaching strategies and by building a collaborative and friendly classroom environment. Further to the above, my passion about teaching and my continuous aim to promote and boost my knowledge in education, drove me to the Lebanese University, faculty of Education, from where I obtained a professional master’s degree in teaching and training in 2018 and a research master degree in teaching and training in 2019 with a very good appreciation. And after gaining my master's degree in education and starting working in the Higher Education sector, I helped students discover their strengths and weaknesses, and guided them to choose the right majors and right career paths suitable for their abilities and passion.
What innovations do you see most interesting that are emerging in Education sector?
Two main emerging innovations I consider the most interesting in the Education sector: The first is the use of Artificial Intelligence in Education, and the second is the usage of AR/VR in the process of teaching and learning.
What are the challenges that women face in this sector, and what are the changes that are taking place?
As in many sectors, women always face gender equality issues (this is definitely more obvious in some countries especially the developing ones). Many women are underestimated in the Education sector (this shows with the salary differences between women and men, in preserving the administration work for men, undermining women’s voice in the curriculum, and also reduced representation of women working in the Educational Technology field). Some changes are taking place especially when it comes to the legislation of the jobs hierarchy regardless the gender, encouraging women to take paths allowing them to work on the educational technology sector, and also the incorporation of the feminist pedagogies in the curriculum planning and design. I also believe that having more startups in the Education sector driven by women is essential to deal and solve all these challenges that women are facing and preventing possible future challenges.
What are your biggest takeaways from the last Women in EdTech Pitch Night?
Women in EdTech Pitch Night is an event that I highly recommend for each woman working in the education sector! This event shows us that, in spite of their location and the challenges women are facing, women can work and shine in EdTech sector! We can say after attending the Women in EdTech Pitch Night that women are also able to make a huge impact nationally and internationally in the Education Sector! Women are powerful and they are here to help the students at schools and make this world a better place!
To learn more about women-led innovation in EdTech and network with professionals like Sara, follow our upcoming events on this page.