The US - Pakistan Centers for Advanced Studies in Energy, in collaboration with Arizona State University, NUST, UET, Women Engineers Pakistan and Higher Education Commission Pakistan conducted a three day workshop on the topic of "Awareness and Strategy Building for Gender Equity in Engineering". This workshop was aimed towards the faculty and graduate students of engineering universities, and addressed a wide array of difficult topics, including "a session with secondary school career counselors, an HEC-led session on sexual harassment, an HEC-led session on general leadership skills, and several sessions on scholarly advancement." In addition to these, several different sessions were conducted where members of WEP expressed their work, expertise, and experiences in either a group panel or individually.
This workshop was a step forward towards documenting the current status of women within STEM fields in Pakistan. It helped create awareness of gender inequity in STEM, and drew attention to the probable solutions, policy changes, and strategies that could help mitigate this gender gap. Dr. Chad Haines from Arizona State University championed the workshop, leading multiple panels such as; "Defining the Parameters of Gender Issues in Pakistan", "Professional Development and Gender Equity", and "Identifying Obstacles to Gender Equity" etc.
WEP ER Manager, Ms. Yusra Shah introduced the audience to the progress made by Women Engineers Pakistan as an organization, and implored upon the vast amount of work that is still to be done in order to achieve gender parity within the STEM fields. The first session was a round-table discussion that broadly discussed the various different challenges faced by women in engineering. WEP Professional member Ms. Saliha Akram presented a perspective of women engineers in the field, and shed light to the career choices made by women, and challenges they face in pursuing their profession. Student members, and WEP Campus Ambassadors also conducted a panel discussion highlighting back on the challenges of women students studying engineering, and the apprehensions they already face for the practical world while still at school.
WEP Member Experience:
WEP member Rawash Asif expressed her experience as, "It has been a great experience attending the workshop, on ‘Gender Equity in Engineering’ organized by USAID, as one of the campus ambassadors of Women Engineers Pakistan where I had a chance to speak about the special challenges women face in studying and opting for engineering fields, at the national forum. I am enthused and honored to have shared my university experience with the people from different streams, different branches, different academic years and especially with the university administrators and professors who listened to the issues addressed by me. Overall, it was a very well organized and very successful workshop where I met with many faculty members and MS students and had a chance to interact with them. I truly thank WEP for supporting and believing in me."
WEP member Ayesha Mehboob said, "Attending the ‘Gender Equity’ workshop organized by USAID and ASU in collaboration with NUST and UET Peshawar was a great experience. It provided me a stage for sharing personal experience, concerns with the faculty members and administrators of various universities and to stand up for the issues and obstacles other girls are facing in STEM field. The Question and Answer session with such an intellectual and active audience helped me to make my points clear. I also got the chance to interact with the representatives of ASU, USAID, Professors and students from the different fields which helped me to expand my professional network. Speaking in front of so many people for the first time was a confidence booster for me.
Overall it was a great learning experience. I would like to thank USAID for their invitation and hospitality and WEP for trusting me with the huge responsibility to discuss the sensitive issue of the society and for the moral support."
WEP Pioneering member, Ms. Anum Tariq noted, "It has been a great experience attending the workshop on " Gender Equity in Engineering" organized by USAID, as one of the campus ambassador of Women Engineers Pakistan which was an attempt by me to put a limelight towards the issues i faced in my past and present so other girls in STEM, thanks to WEP for providing this platform to raise our voice in front of influenced people and policy makers. It was also very great experience to meet other campus Ambassadors, Faculty members and Masters Students."
Similarly, WEP Pioneering member Shayan Abdurrauf said, "It has been a great experience attending the workshop, on ‘Gender Equity in Engineering’ organized by USAID, as one of the campus ambassadors of Women Engineers Pakistan where I could take a stand for the women who face issues in their engineering degree and professional life, as i always wanted to highlight the challenges girls faced in my university especially due the male gender of their class and university in order to change the childish and cheap mindset of the male youths. Moreover, the workshop even benefited me by polishing my public speaking skills as it was my first experience of panel discussion and even provided me with good memories and contacts for my future."