Women in STEM: Rana el Kaliouby

Women in STEM: Rana el Kaliouby

Women in STEM: Rana el Kaliouby

Scientist Rana el Kaliouby has just released her first book, Girl Decoded, her compelling memoir following her journey from Egypt to America in a quest to reclaim our humanity by bringing emotional intelligence to technology.

And what an incredible and inspiring journey it’s been! From getting her Masters in Science at the American University in Cairo to England where she earned her PhD from Cambridge University and then to Massachusetts for her Post Doctorate from MIT.

When it was time to get to work, Rana landed at the prestigious MIT Lab, focusing on how to improve human-computer interaction. However, she soon began applying this technology to improve human-human communication, especially for people on the autism spectrum who struggle to convey their emotions.

In 2009, she co-founded Affectiva, an MIT Media Lab startup with the purpose of bringing “emotional intelligence to our devices and digital experiences.” Considered a pioneer of artificial emotional intelligence, or Emotion AI, Rana believes it’s the next frontier, a merger of cognitive and emotional intelligence in technology.

Rana’s goal for Affectiva is to become the leading provider of AI software that can detect complex nuanced human emotions and cognitive states, which can allow businesses to incorporate emotion data and analytics in their development and marketing. 

To carry out her plan, she took the company reins, becoming CEO in 2016. According to Rana, “My life’s work is about humanizing technology before it dehumanizes us.” Today, Affectiva has built the world’s largest emotion data repository to test consumer engagement with ads, videos, and TV programming.

Her list of accolades is equally impressive. In 2016, Wired named her to the list of 25 Geniuses Who Are Creating the Future of Business. In 2018, she was recognized by Forbes as one of The World’s Top 50 Women In Tech. And in 2019, she made Fortune’s List of top female trailblazers.

Going forward in these difficult times, Rana says on her Instagram account, “It is only through the power of a support system, that you can find encouragement, but more importantly empowerment. Community becomes our competitive advantage.”

At Tynker, we support advancements in science for the greater good and can’t wait to see what Rana does next.


Tynker enables children to learn computer programming in a fun and imaginative way. More than 60 million kids worldwide have started learning to code using Tynker.