Although STEM has been a male-dominated field in Pakistan, it hasn’t stopped women from making exceptional contributions to the field. Some initiatives taken by Pakistani women to create an impact through technology, are not only note-worthy but also inspirational. Here are a few Pakistani women in tech that have, in my personal opinion, reassured that technology and innovation is beyond gender differences and is purely about skill and innovation.
1. JEHAN ARA (@jehan_ara)
Jehan Ara is the President of Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES (P@SHA) and the tech incubator NEST I/O. She tops this list not only because of her position but also because of the initiatives she has taken. She is an ardent supporter of legislation for cyber crime, and privacy and data protection. She is also part of the “Bolo Bhi” campaign, and gives seminars and motivational talks in various training programs where she strongly advocates her cause. Jehan Ara has more than 30 years of experience in the field of technology, where she has been using her marketing, communication and entrepreneurial skills to bring techies and entrepreneurs on-board.
2. AYESHA FAROOQ
Pakistani women in tech never stop amazing us!! A small city in southern Punjab, Bahawalpur, is where the first female fighter pilot of Pakistan comes from. Ayesha Farooq joined the Pakistan Air Force Academy in 2006 and was destined to become a war pilot ever since.
She was the first among six girls to pass her examination and was ready to fly the F7-PG, which is the Chinese version of MiG 21 fighter jet. Farooq has undergone hard-core technical and physical training also required by men in the same field, and is looked upon as a role model by many girls aspiring to be a part of the Pakistan Air Force.
3. SHEBA NAJMI (@snajmi)
A Stanford graduate with a majors in Human-Computer interactions, Sheba Najmi is the Founder and Executive Director of Code For Pakistan (CFP). CFP is a volunteer based, non-profit organization which brings web developers and government domain experts together to improve the quality of services provided by civic institutions. It is helping bridge a gap between government and citizens by providing smart solutions for everyday problems. DocSeek, Messiha, NoKunda, and KP Traffic are a few of the Apps which have been developed by volunteers at CFP.
Najmi has been involved in product innovation and user experience for over 11 years now and is currently working with Exygy. She also has experience working with The World Bank, Yahoo!, Inc., Code for America, LUXE Valet and many others, and is one of the most inspiring Pakistani women in tech!
4. MARIA UMAR (@MariaUmar)
When you talk about giving digital empowerment to women, Maria Umar is the first name that comes to my mind. She is the Founder and President of “Women’s Digital League” (WDL). WDL provides freelancing training to women who can work from home, making it a priority to take into consideration the amount of talent which is left idle in the country.
With an experience of over 7 years at WDL, Maria also works with Enclude as a project manager. She has been recognised for her efforts in various publications like Mashable, Forbes, Virgin, Ashoka, Dawn, etc. Maria has been trained by top business experts from Silicon Valley in Artemis/Goldman Sachs 10,000 women Program. Additional to all these accolades, she has also been nominated as a Thought Leader at the Ashoka Changemakers.
5. UMAIMAH MENDHRO (@umaimah)
Coming from a small village in Pakistan and scoring a high distinction in Human Development and Computer Sciences at Cornell University, and later at Harvard University as well, Umaimah is the best example of integrating technology and entrepreneurship with innovation. She has established an e-commerce platform for designers and manufacturers to align their skills and provide customized and personalized products to customers. VIDA has more than 200 designers who provide digital designs to manufacturers in various places of the world, including Pakistan, and then sell the digitally printed scarves, handbags and dresses to people all over the world.
Umaimah has had experience working with Microsoft and McKinsey & Company before coming up with the idea of VIDA. Although VIDA is only 2 years old as of now, the concept was able to raise a funding of $1.3 million from established names like Google Ventures, Universal Music Group and many more. As one of the established Pakistani women in tech, Not only is Umaimah proud of her Pakistani origin, she makes sure that she gives rightful credit to the Pakistani manufacturers and artists that are an integral part of VIDA.
Ted Talk by Umaimah
Be the change you want to see.