Dina Ayman: Empowering Women in Tech | Exclusive Interview

October 1, 2021
May Allam

Dina Ayman, Adjunct Instructor at New Jersey Institute of Technology and Program Manager at Microsoft, USA. Her dream since 7th grade was to become an engineer. Her parents wanted her to join medical school, but Dina insisted to study engineering. 

Ayman is an electrical and computer engineering major. She graduated in May 2018 with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, achieving one of a kind achievement in a male dominated field like Computer Engineering. She’s the first Egyptian in the US to accomplish that.

Ayman specialized in software as an undergraduate and networking in graduate school, so her job as a network software engineer allows her to explore many dimensions in both the software and the networking side of the technology.

In addition, she is the founder and CEO of Diversity and Inclusion Power company. 

WoE: Please tell us more about yourself, being a female and an Egyptian living and working in the US? 
DA: I’m an Egyptian-American, born in New Jersey, USA. I moved with my family to Egypt for elementary and middle school. In 8th grade, my parents decided to move back to the US for us to finish our education. I moved with my Dad and young siblings, but unfortunately my mom couldn’t come with us due to immigration issues that took 11 years to resolve. During that time, as the oldest sibling, I assumed the mother’s role for my three younger siblings. Even though it was really tough for a high school girl, but it shaped the person I am today. 

It made me want to learn everything I can to be able to teach my siblings what they should and should not do. I was always on the Dean’s Honor List in college and I was offered by my school to start my Master’s degree before I finished my Bachelor’s. I accepted right after! After a lot of sleepless nights, I graduated with both my B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Computer Engineering in the same year (2018) from New Jersey Institute of technology. The U.S. Embassy labeled me to be the first Egyptian to do so in all major newspapers.

My personal experience made me a leader and a people’s person, and with my passion for technology I accomplished a lot. After graduation, I worked for Intel as a software engineer. I also served on the Technology and Telecommunication Commission for the City of Austin, Texas, reporting to the Mayor’s Office. In Microsoft I became a program manager where I lead a team of software engineers. 

WoE: Did you face any bias or trouble adjusting to the different culture and habits?
DA: Thankfully not, but if I ever did I will not work in such culture. I’m unapologetically who I am and my beliefs will never change no matter what. I’m driven by the obstacles and challenges I face in life. The more difficult I find it, the more I’m determined to rise. I would like to always bring my whole self to work and be as respected as I respect others.

WoE: What prompted your choice of Engineering as a major in the university and particularly Computer Engineering – a field dominated by men?

DA: I always loved math, and wanted to be an engineer since middle school, before I even knew what engineering was. My love for technology started in high school; the idea I can create something here in the U.S. that would be used on the other side of the world fascinated me. And I was always blown away by how technology is in everything we use, and how it makes life way easier.

WoE: Can you compare your experiences as a Professor teaching Engineering at NJIT and as an employee in Intel or Microsoft and mainly as a female working in both fields? Which did you find easier?
DA: I love both, but the Tech industry is a little closer to me right now more than academia. I love being a professor to raise a generation of bold and fearless engineers. I’ve always wanted to go back to academia to guide students on how to successfully make it to the industry. But creating the future of technology with my hands closer to my heart. I love leading my team of software engineers that creates the future.

WoE: If you face difficulties and diversity in your jobs, would you insist on implementing your point of view or follow the norms in the field? Can you give us examples where you faced dilemmas and how you responded?

DA: If we follow the norms, we will never see change. I always feel the urge to raise issues for myself, or others, if they are not comfortable to bring it up. For example, at a previous employer, a team felt they are discriminated against, but the whole team including the manager didn’t want to raise the issue because they were scared it will be worse. Even though it wasn’t my team, but being on a Leadership committee, I felt I it was my responsibilities to bring this up. I was able to solve the issue for the whole team. 

WoE: As an Egyptian woman, what advice can you offer freshly graduating females in the male-dominated fields of Engineering and Computer Science?

DA: There will be times where you are the only woman in the room, but that is your power. Don’t let that discourage you from anything you want to achieve. Women are critical to any business success, and you have to always work hard to have a place where decisions are made. Make that your motivation, and know the sky is your limit.

Dina Ayman meets Nabila Makram, Egypt’s Minster of Immigration

WOE: What can be done to empower and encourage women in Egypt to live and work in the US and be employed in your field?
DA: I believe in the power of representation. We need to put more spotlights on successful, diverse women for others to see someone that looks like them in the place where they want to be. We need to acknowledge it’s a problem from early age and to solve it. The tech industry needs to always encourage young girls to be in technology and engineering and show them that careers in the field are for them.  

WoE: Would you give lectures and training sessions to inspire women to follow your lead? 
DA: I’m always speaking at conferences and invited to universities and corporations to inspire and empower women in technology. I always use my platforms on Instagram , LinkedIn, and Facebook to connect with women in the field or who aspire to be.  This is forever a topic close to my heart. 

WoE: What are your dreams for women in Egypt? How do you think they can be achieved?
DA: Women are absolutely capable of doing any job on the planet and are successful doing it, but we tend to doubt and limit ourselves more than men ever do. And that’s what I really wish to change. I want to raise more Fearless females who want to be in the computer engineering industry, and are not intimidated by being in a male dominated field, but embracing it. Because by then it won’t be a male dominated field.

WoE: What are your dreams on a personal and professional level?

DA: On a personal level, I want to positively impact other people lives. I feel that’s the legacy I can leave behind. 

On a professional level, I truly believe in the power of my company (Diversity and Inclusion Power) and want to focus on changing the way the world see technology and empower others along the way. 

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