For women in Pakistan, choosing to work in the male-dominated information technology sector often means charting their own path. For those brave enough, there is a double challenge — lack of resources and lack of representation.
Aqsa Kausar, one of the four women who were selected as Google Developer Experts (GDEs) from Pakistan, recalled the difficulty she faced when she started out in the field. “I developed [an] interest in Machine Learning but since there were not a lot of resources available, I had to do a lot of online learning. Learning majorly on my own was, of course, a challenge because there weren’t many people I could go to in case I was stuck on a concept.
“When I applied for the programme, there was no female GDE in Pakistan and there was no GDE in Machine Learning at all.”
Sakina Abbas, whose expertise is Flutter, meanwhile, remained upbeat while talking about her journey, saying “nothing seems like a challenge if you pursue it with passion.”
“It was indeed tiring and difficult to keep up, but at the end of the day, challenges strengthen you and help you become a better version of yourself.”
Sakina stressed the need for the government to encourage more female participation in the IT sector, pointing out that along with training, there was also the need to provide adequate housing for women coming from rural areas.
“They (government) need to create more opportunities for women. They should take measures to create ease for women such as making housing available for single women to come work in hubs such as major cities.“
“The government should also promote STEM entrepreneurship among university students, establish partnerships with private organisations working on STEM entrepreneurship, and improve the capacity of NICs (National Incubation Centres) to incubate IT ventures,” she added.