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“I decided that I would work in the IT industry and be number one in this area” – Ani Petrosyan

Ani Petrosyan leads a very active lifestyle from an early age. From the age of 12 she is already taking her first steps in a field, which she is going to do in the next 30 years.

“The Tumo Center has become the main driving force in the choice of the IT sector. I remember that in the first course of robotics there were 120 boys and only 3 girls, one of whom was me. That day we had to split up into teams, and then it seemed that no one wanted to work with the girls, because everyone thought they would be too burdensome for the team. I decided that I would work in the IT industry and be number one in this area,” she says.

The first steps to be the first: from international hackathons to her own project

Initially, it was difficult for Ani to orient herself in the IT field: she started studying robotics, then she studied web design, and then game programming: “Now I have been working in the field of artificial intelligence for about 1.5 years, and I am confident that I will continue in this field for the next 30 years, because I really like it,” she says.

Since the age of 14, Ani has been participating in various international hackathons, as well as practicing in various organizations. At the age of 14, she took part in the first international hackathon – “Tech Together Boston”. “Our team included Berkeley alumni. I was very young compared to them, but they accepted me as a full member of their team, no matter my age, and that was great, ” says Ani says.

Last year “Tech Together” nominated Ani as the best hacker of the year.

Girlopolis: What does not exist must be created

Ani has participated in various international hackathons and notes that she was always upset that such programs are not being implemented in Armenia. “During my participation, I have always wondered – why such events are not held in Armenia either? At that period, I always had such a secret thought: If there are no such events in Armenia, maybe I will be the first? But all this is not easy to implement. It takes a lot of work.

In December 2020, I was looking at the Facebook newsfeed and on my page I saw information that the Women’s Fund Armenia provides grants to teenage girls, and I thought to myself – what if my first hackathon starts like this? I thought about it all night, and then one idea came to my mind to create a community of girls, so called – city of girls. This is how “Girlopolis” was created. The Women’s Fund Armenia is that organization that believed in me. I am sure that without them this idea would not have come true. It all seemed to be planned. I’ve never thought that this could happen and that it could be so successful,” says Ani Petrosyan.

The results of “Girlopolis”

The initiative began with an unexpectedly big success. The application for participation in the hackathon, which took place in March 2021, was completed in 1.5 days by more than 300 women and girls. “The hackathon was a real boom, people were very interested in this idea,” she claims.

The next hackathon is scheduled for August 20-22, but unlike the first one, it will be offline.

Ani especially notes the following circumstance about the results. “At the first hackathon, we gave preference to girls from regions and villages, and I am especially proud of the following result: The participants from the villages told us how much this initiative changed their lives,” Ani says.

In addition to startups, Ani also emphasizes the fact of a strong community formed as a result of the initiative. The participants stay in touch even after the hackathon and travel around Armenia together.

Since hackathons are scheduled to be held once a year due to certain financial issues, there is a need to keep the “girl’s city” active, so the team has started conducting a series of interviews with women, who have succeeded in various fields. Besides that, the “Infopolis” program is being implemented, the main idea of ​​which is to publish interesting information about IT.

Ani mentions that she is going to continue her education abroad, but now she is not going to tell about that, she says that  she will present it, when she already has real results.

“My best friends also want to study abroad, but we all promised each other that we will definitely return to Armenia. We will have our contribution to the development of our state. I think our state should develop in this direction. If my friends do not keep their promise, I will be very upset” Ani Petrosyan concludes.

Interview by Yelena Sargsyan