FemInno shines spotlight on women in tech in Armenia

By Angela Hassassian

Armenia’s IT sector has become one of the fastest-growing industries in the country, with a steady annual growth rate of 20%. Over the years, Armenia has attracted some of the biggest global tech giants, including Adobe, NVIDIA, National Instruments, Microchip Technology, Siemens EDA, Synopsys, and VMWare.

The country is also quickly becoming home to IT Unicorns – companies worth more than $1 billion – with projections of hosting 10 unicorns by 2027.

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In turn, Armenia-grown tech companies, such as Picsart, RenderForest, and female-founded SoloLearn, have successfully penetrated the global market.

Data from last year reveals that 30%-40% of IT sector employees in the country are women. No small feat considering that the global average is teetering around 25%.

And this is the focus of an upcoming FemInno conference, which will take place July 29-30 in Yerevan, Armenia.

The conference will bring together IT representatives from over fifteen countries spanning Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, for workshops, masterclasses, and talks. But the founder of FemInno, Seda Papoyan, wants everyone to know that she’s inviting specialists from abroad not because Armenia lacks female experts, but because she hopes to raise awareness about local professionals to the international community.

Papoyan also takes the data that comes out about Armenia’s IT sector with a grain of salt. According to her, the large representation of women in tech in the country is a result of their participation in varying departments, for example, in HR, marketing, and administration, and is not necessarily an accurate depiction of the number of women working directly in tech.

“We started FemInno as an important empowerment platform, and particularly for women in various stages of their professional and personal growth,” she told CivilNet.

Targeting innovation in general, but with a particular focus on the potential of women in business, science and technology, FemInno attracts experts from all over the world to participate in the two-day conference to network, exchange thoughts and open doors for future collaboration. The theme of this year’s conference is “Sustainable Future: Heading to Metaverse.”

“Last year being the first conference, we had participants from 17 countries,” said Papoyan. “This year we will showcase three stages, five content zones and 40+ speakers who’ll explore the phenomena of Metaverse.”

ALSO WATCH: Closing the gender gap in Armenia’s burgeoning tech sector

Vera Grablechner, for example, is the Co-Founder of Women in Immersive Technologies Europe, and has flown in from Austria to speak at this year’s event. She feels that Armenian women have a unique opportunity to act as bridges between different communities and industries by fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

“I believe Armenian women possess diverse unique perspectives and contributions that can play a significant role in shaping a more sustainable future within the context of the Metaverse and beyond,” she said.

Among the local experts participating in this year’s conference is Mariam Torosyan, Founder and CEO of SafeYOU, who spoke to CivilNet about her experience as a female tech leader in Armenia.

“Some perceive social impact startups as ‘less serious’ in the tech domain,” said Torosyan, “but I believe in the power of technology to drive positive change. I am committed to changing the narrative by encouraging more women and girls to pursue careers in technology and entrepreneurship.”

Torosyan says that overcoming this perception and gaining recognition for her team’s work has been an important journey.

SafeYOU is a mobile application with access to emergency assistance, forum discussions, and information about where to seek help for those going through violence and abuse.

“We need more women mentors and role models to inspire the next generation and create a more inclusive and diverse IT community,” said Torosyan.

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