Marie Claire Murekatete is currently a Software Development Engineer at Intel, USA. She has gained her experience by attending technical training and working for more than 8 years in a range of technical and management assignments at Intel, Google, the Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA)and Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
She co-founded Refugee Girls Need You and Technovation Challenge Rwanda, and she had supported different mentorship programs that empower young girls to pursue STEM. These groups include Girls in ICT Rwanda (Ms Geek Africa), STEM camps and school outreach programs.
Marie Claire won different awards such as the “2017 Change Agent ABIE Award” from AnitaB.org at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. The award honors an outstanding international woman who has created or expanded opportunities for girls and women in technology. UN Women, Mott MacDonald and the Rwanda Gender Promotion Recognition awarded Marie Claire an award for being a role model for the next generation of women in the Rwandan community. Marie was also awarded a Tech Leadership Award by Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT).
She is a TechWomen 2014 emerging leader, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
She holds a Master’s of Science degree in Information Technology from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and Information Technology from the University of Rwanda College of Technology.
Claire’s life passion is to develop and share the gifts she has been given because she believes that the more she helps other people to succeed, the more she succeeds.
What inspired you to pursue STEM?
When I was young, I was curious to know how things work and I was inspired to create new things. But I got excited about STEM through a wonderful attentive high school mathematics teacher who engaged me with problems and gave me individual attention. He created the environment to promote STEM and help me to drive innovation.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
My greatest achievement has been to initiate and participate in different mentorship programs that empower young girls and change their lives. I have been helping them to dare to dream, discover their dream and grow professionally.
Being born and raised in a rural area with limited resources, I have never set out to be a role model for other women, but I am so excited to be the role model. In 2017, Telle Whitney, the AnitaB.’s CEO and President said “The Anita Borg Institute is thrilled to honor Marie Claire Murekatete with the 2017 Change Agent ABIE Award. By creating a path to STEM careers for refugee girls, Marie Claire has made life-changing contributions to the next generation of women technologists. She serves as a role model for all of us.”
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
One of my challenges was being one of the few girls in a STEM class or on a team. I overcome them by having STEM role models. When I was young, I didn’t have STEM role models. Entering into a STEM field was like risk-taking because you can’t become what you can’t see! Role models can play a significant part in driving your interest in STEM fields. Research shows that girls who do know at least one woman in a STEM field are substantially more likely to feel more confident and empowered when they carry out STEM activities. But as the principle presides, discipline and hard work lead to success. I have been using a mix of both to be who I am today.
STEM fields are exploding at an amazing rate and anyone who is interested in expanding their understanding in science, technology, engineering and math should be able to do so with little or no hindrance. I have been very fortunate to not encounter any significant challenges as a result of being female.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
I would like to tell women that nothing in life is easy. See yourself as a pioneering professional in the STEM field for future generations. Don’t listen to the perceptions and judgments of others. Your motivations and inspirations for entering STEM fields should be the sole driving force behind what you choose to study and, ultimately, the greatness you achieve.
STEM is all around us. It is not about who has the best training or resources, rather it is about the passion you have for a better world. You are strong enough, you are smart enough, and people are waiting for the change that you (only) can make.
It’s a cool time to be in STEM because everything is expanding and changing so quickly that there are a lot of opportunities in STEM than ever.
Keep going – you can do it! It is often hard, but if you work smart and do the best you can, it will work out. Your path might not be the same as you expected or hoped but keep going.