IWD2021 Salma Bougarrani – Challenging gender stereotypes in STEM

CEO of Green Watech – Orange Corners Morocco

Meet Salma Bougarrani. Salma is the CEO of Green Watech, an company the develops and produces a new generation of patented, innovative, low-cost, ecological and efficient water filters for the treatment and re-use of waste water from rural communities and decentralised sites.

Because sanitation in Morocco, especially in rural areas, is dominated by large enterprises, offering no adequate technological solution regarding local social economic conditions. Most of these enterprises were dominated by men both at managerial level and operating level.

In 2018 she decided to found Green Watech for a challenge first. She is a female scientist from Morocco who had a very modest upbringing and had to work very hard, introduce entrepreneurial field because she believes that each of us can make a difference. And she wanted to contribute positively to take on the challenge facing her country. Despite Moroccan progress in working toward gender equity and the removal of many discriminatory practices and barriers for women. Females are still significantly underrepresented in most fields, particularly science and technology in Morocco.

Salma holds a PhD in advanced water treatment processes from the Mohammed V (Med V) University in Morocco and the University of Leipzig,Germany, and has extensive academic and applied experience in the field of water. She is a serial entrepreneur with more than 8 years of experience working with small and large organizations. She has international work experience, including China, Turkey, the UK and the Middle East, in various facets of the water industry, including municipal plant operations for wastewater treatment, oxidation, photo catalysis and water process engineering.

Less than two percent of women are on senior research positions. Also, the Association of Women Entrepreneurs estimated that the number of women entrepreneurs in Morocco does not exceed 10 percent of the number total enterprise.

As a female entrepreneur in Morocco she experienced several challenges related to the entrepreneurial environment. As a woman entrepreneur, she deals with the lack of credibility of the various partner customers, suppliers, especially at the beginning. It was quite a shock for a team of 8 men to have a female leader and manager on a building site and having to follow her instructions. It took her a long time to gain their trust and respect.
Another challenge is related to several individual factors. Salma believes that managing a business requires having conceptual, relational and technical skills, and she recognizes that it is difficult to reconcile her private and professional lives without the support of her family in order to participate in promoting gender equality in Morocco.

Her goal is to empower and inspire the girls and encourage them to do scientific and technical studies, providing the leaders of tomorrow with know how training with a special emphasis on highlighting women entrepreneur that impacted the environments by blazing the trail for other women.

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