Founded by Gaza Sky Geeks in 2019, Banat Geeks is a summer camp that builds the technical and soft skills of young women, ages 16 to 18. The goal of Banat Geeks is to provide young Gazan women with exposure to STEM and provide them with a practical foundation to pursue these subjects later in life in university and in their careers.
Created in response to the underrepresentation of women in STEM in higher education and in the workforce, Banat Geeks is part of Gaza Sky Geeks’ efforts to champion diversity in the tech industry, both locally in Palestine and worldwide. When Gaza Sky Geeks first piloted Banat Geeks, over 1,000 applications were received in just one week, demonstrating a high demand among young women across Gaza for extracurricular, educational, and skill-building experiences. Criteria for eligibility for Banat Geeks include:
- Women aged 16-18 residing in the Gaza Strip who:
- Are high school students graduating the same year of the start of the program
- Have not participated in any tech-related training before
- Are unclear about what to study at university
- Are passionate and committed to learning new skills
Three years into the program, interest in the program remains exceedingly high with application numbers averaging 2626 for 143 spots in the program.
Banat Geeks Curriculum
Banat Geeks provides trainees with an introduction to technical and practical life skills to motivate them to select STEM-related university majors. Introductory topics covered in the Banat Geeks curriculum include: entrepreneurship, coding, technical, soft and employability skills as well as featuring hosts speakers to share their experiences and successes in the field of STEM.
The curriculum is delivered by a combination of local mentors, Gaza Sky Geeks staff and graduates of Gaza Sky Geeks’ tech education programs, as well as international mentors from Gaza Sky Geeks’ global community of supporters. Banat Geeks emphasizes teamwork, peer-to-peer learning, and mentorship in which are placed in small groups and guided through the lifecycle of developing a prototype of a web application. The program concludes with a demo day where each group presents their app, demonstrates its functionality, and provides the business case for their concept.
Why is inclusivity important in STEM?
Gaza and the West Bank suffer from high rates of youth unemployment for both genders, as well as a distinct gender pay gap. Globally as well as in Palestine, female inclusion in the workforce faces disproportionate barriers, oftentimes related to societal and family pressures. STEM provides many pathways for women, especially in Palestine, to build high-earning careers that allow for flexibility and compatibility with family life. Gaza Sky Geeks believes that meaningful economic change in Palestine requires the full participation of women. By providing support and education to women at an early age, Gaza Sky Geeks invests in the future of Palestine’s tech sector by proactively bridging gaps in the confidence and skills of women.
Expanding to Khan Younis
The Gaza Strip’s southern region suffers from higher levels of poverty than Gaza City. Transportation costs to and from Gaza City pose a barrier to most residents from the south of Gaza, prohibiting participation of young women in Banat Geeks. In 2022, Gaza Sky Geeks expanded Banat Geeks to a second location in Khan Younis to enable inclusion of participants from the south of Gaza.
Impact and Outcomes
- 143 young women participated in the Banat Geeks summer camp since 2019.
- 96% of participants confirmed that Banat Geeks helped them select their university specialization.
- 90% of participants confirmed that the camp helped them improve their employability skills, entrepreneurship, and coding.
- 80% of participants choose a STEM/Tech major to study at university after the program.
- All participants have expressed they have experienced growth in their personalities and changed their perception of tech.
Meet The Graduates!
Rasha Hirzallah 2020 BG graduate
“Banat Geeks is the best thing that happened to me when I finished high school, it was beyond amazing. They take great care of you in the program. It has left an impact on my personality, thinking, behavior, and lifestyle in a massive way. Banat Geeks helped me plan for my future and gave me a deep insight into technology. They offer you the tools that put you on the first steps of your university path.”
Dalia Mohaisen, 2020 BG graduate
“Banat Geeks was a very nice experience! This program pushes you to think freely and creatively. It directs you to the right path, where you can think of the options to take for your life, and helps you to develop, and innovate. I really like how this camp has introduced me to the world of technology in an interactive way, which is important in the current time. Technology makes you break borders and challenges and keep pace with the world.”
Aya Abu el Sisi, 2020 BG graduate
“I intended to study medicine, as my high school grade was 97.6%. But after going to Banat Geeks, I made the decision to study computer science. Tech used to seem extremely hard and boring to me, but Banat Geeks changed my mind. Developing my own website makes me very happy. Over the course of the summer camp, we acquired soft skills, and I can see myself reflecting them in my day-to-day actions and reactions to various situations. My confidence and self-awareness increased. I don’t frequently connect with strangers, but this camp gave me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and meet many friends. I’ve learned that you can achieve in the Gaza Strip by joining the Gaza Sky Geeks community; being around all these geeks was incredibly motivating!”