In our latest series of articles, we want to highlight the wonderful women from Pakistan who are the movers and shakers of their tech scene. Pakistan is a country which earns a reputation for all the wrong reasons. However, it is full of amazing and talented people. Faiza Yousuf is the founder of the Women In Tech PK initiative, which is a community for Pakistani Women in Technology. As was only fitting, we start our series with her. Read on.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, your work and your motivations.
I am a CSIT graduate and postgraduate from NED University with 8 years of experience in the tech industry and for the past 3+ years, I have been running my own consulting business. I love to teach and I spend a few hours every week teaching CS undergrad and grad students at IU and FAST-NUCES. I also run a community called @WomenInTechPK which connects a little over 3000 women entrepreneurs and technologists nationwide with a goal of increasing diversity and inclusion in the technology industry. I love to read and write and I am usually found on Twitter.
Do you think Pakistan has changed as a society, in terms of letting women take on jobs?
Yes, the change is slow but it is there. I am hopeful that the trend will continue and we will see more women in the workplace and on strong leadership positions.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Most of the times, women can’t climb up the career ladder due to lack of support from their families, no help in care work, gender insensitive policies from employers, lack of mentorship and sponsorship and the saddest of all are the discrimination and harassment issues. Further barriers include male chauvinism, lack of role models and backing of the community.
What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?
I think the best decision was to learn to pivot and get back up. The worst decision was to say yes to something due to peer pressure. I came out of it alive and thrived later on but it was really rough.
What woman inspires you and why?
Marie Curie, her scientific work and her being a woman of science has changed the world forever.
Do we have any role models for women? If not, what can we do to create them in Pakistan?
Yes, we have role models in every field and we need to highlight their work and celebrate their accomplishments. It is important to create a positive conversation and let people know about the talent and hard work of our local women professionals and entrepreneurs.
Is there a neutral platform or forum for women to discuss their career needs?
I run a community called @WomenInTechPK which is a booming place for women technologists. There are plenty of other local communities, like Women4Women, Wings to Women, Women of Today, etc. From international platforms, we have leanin, techwomen, techladies and womentechmakers.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Balancing work and life is a challenge today and will stay a challenge in the future. Dealing with imposter syndrome and failure also make the list.
What needs to change to help more women come forward?
Female role models, infrastructure, learning and networking opportunities, mentorship and access to resources. We need grassroots level initiatives as well as large government level enterprises to make sure that women get a level playing field.
If you could change one thing, what would it be?
About myself, I have a list. But I guess the thing I want the most is to see education reforms in Pakistan.
How can OxGadgets and its readers help you and other women of the industry?
This interview series is a great help and I expect to see more of these on this platform. Also, hire from our resource pool at @WomenInTechPK.
We’d like to thank Faiza for answering our questions and helping us conduct this series of interviews with all the other great women that we will be featuring.
You can follow Faiza Yousuf using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.