Women in Science: From IVLP to Opportunities in STEM


To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we are highlighting Sotheavy At, Strategic Communications Specialist at DAI Global/USAID Digital Asia Accelerator and alumna of the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP).


How has participating in international exchange for STEM issues transformed your life, career, or education? Did any new opportunities arise from this experience?

Before the visit, I thought that only women and girls in developing countries like Cambodia faced barriers to pursue STEM-education and STEM-related work. From my visit, I quickly learned that most women and girls share the same journey in this male dominant world regardless of their location. It made me appreciate any and all efforts to put girls in STEM and was proud to participate in the program.

In 2020, I was won the Women of the Future Award for Southeast Asia for my achievements in leading programs and activities related to addressing the gender gap in both technology and entrepreneurship fields in Cambodia under USAID’s Developments Innovations project and my personal campaign, “ Think Plastic,”  which tackles one of Cambodia’s most critical issues: waste management and trash disposal.

My current role with DAI Global/USAID Digital Asia Accelerator is to running a campaign to helping Cambodian small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) stay safe online in the face of rapid digitalization and forced digital transformation due to COVID-19 outbreaks and restrictions. You can read about the campaign here.

Additionally, I am leading the video storytelling series called,  “The Digi Heroes” to highlight outstanding stories of USAID’s Digital Accelerator Asia across the Southeast Asia to advance the use of digital skills for microbusinesses and SMEs to help citizens stay safe online.


How has the community of women and girls in science inspired or motivated you or your work?

My work with USAID’s Developments Innovations back in 2019 was to create a pipeline for girls in technology. I often heard girls say that we didn’t have enough role models to relate to so in response we created a video series called, “Neary Idols” (Neary meaning women/girls) to share motivational stories of women in tech.

When I had the opportunity to join IVLP, I was glad to share these stories of success from Cambodia and learn many new things from incredible the other women participating in the program. By having a chance to get connected to a community of women in science internationally, it helped me to work harder to fight this for this sisterhood.