"Persian Women in Tech" founder Sepideh Nasiri Sazesh

By Fred Parvaneh

Persian Women in Tech (PWIT) – a non-profit that represents successful women of Iranian descent with a background in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – had its first Los Angeles meet-and-greet earlier this month at Google‘s offices in Venice Beach.

The panel (L to R): Moderator Radin Rahimzadeh, Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia, Elizabeth Amini, Cameron Kashani, Sepideh Nasiri Sazesh, Bita Milanian and Farnaz Azmoodeh. Photograph: Fred Parvaneh.

PWIT was founded in San Francisco by Sepideh (Sepi) Nasiri Sazesh. At each event, speakers are invited to talk about their entrepreneurial skills as well as the challenges that women face in the worlds of technology and business. The events are a networking opportunity and a chance for panelists to mentor a younger generation of women who are starting in business.

One of the panelists at the sold-out event on August 5 was Farnaz Azmoodeh, director of engineering at Snap Inc. (Snapchat), who pointed out that “There is an unconscious bias towards women, and especially immigrants so it’s important for us to try a little harder, be a bit more persistent, a bit more resilient than our male counterparts, and above all to ‘own’ the project at hand.”

Fellow panelist Cam (Cameron) Kashani – co-founder and CEO of COACCEL – emphasized the importance of coming together as a group.

“I joined this organization because I strongly believe in the power of community and what we can achieve together as a powerful unit,” said Kashani, adding that she hoped the organization would “allow us to collectively elevate one another to a higher level.”

“It’s time to put aside the competitive ethos and embrace the community ethos,” she said. “Together, we are so much more powerful than we are alone.”

The other panelists were: Bita Milanian, senior vice president for global marketing at GENBAND/Kandy.io; Elizabeth Amini, CEO of Anti-AgingGames.com, President of the Trojan CEO Network, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California (USC); and Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia, founder & CEO of PlayWerks.

The panel discussion was moderated by Radin Rahimzadeh, Smart Cities & Intelligent Transportation Systems consultant at Stantec Consulting Services and GoMentum Station.

Topics included the future role of artificial intelligence, and the importance for younger generations of learning code as a means of securing stable employment.

Persian Women In Tech will be hosting similar events this year in San Jose, Boston, London, Stockholm, Washington DC, New York, and Vancouver.

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