I had been a member of the ABI list for a few years before, but my first 'real' experience with ABI was in 2008 after I established a nonprofit organisation, W.TEC, focused on mentoring Nigerian women and girls in their use of information technology (www.w-teconline.org). We were planning a pilot technology camp for teenage girls and sourcing for funding when I learnt of the Pass it On grants. We applied and got it. I was thrilled and that was the start of a wonderfully supportive relationship with ABI. The funding from the PIO grant was instrumental in getting the girls tech camp going (it is now in its 4th year).
In 2009, I was nominated for and selected for the ChangeMaker award. As part of my prize, I was invited to the Grace Hopper Conference to receive my award and participate in a panel with other ChangeMaker award winners. I can honestly say that GHC is the best conference I have been for (and I have attended a few). All the women I met (the ABI staff) were warm and everyone shared their experiences as women in computing freely. I learnt so much from the sessions and other attendees that I could apply to my work in Nigeria.
Through this network of incredible women, the GHC, the lists and regular newsletters, ABI has supported and encouraged many women in their technical careers (no matter what stage they are at).
Coming from Africa,an exposure to other women from across the world doing computing was a great moral boaster. Women in computing make up less than 15% of the total computing world, in Africa, that percentage is almost halfed, so meeting women who inspire you to keep at it was i needed to swing me right back into the narrow and straight path of computing. Since the conference i have learnt a lot from numerous women through the various online tools that ABI has provided in addition to the ABI newsletter KUDOs ABI and the ABI team!
Great suggestions! Although we don't have immediate plans for an event in Africa, we have started working with partners to create events, with GHC as a model, around the U.S. and in other parts of the world. Stay tuned!