By Engr. Ch . Waseem Sajjad.
Never underestimate the power of a woman or what she can achieve. Delicate and compassionate, a woman surely may be, but that should never be mistaken as weakness or incapability. The first and foremost version of her that is respected and recognized is of a mother, which truly deserves all the appreciation in the world. However they are capable of being professionally diverse too. Initially, the best professions considered for women were teaching or medicine but times have changed.
Women all around the world are playing their part not only in the nurturing of nations but also as the work force needed to uplift the economic position of a country. We must be grateful to them for their sincerity and commitment. Here in our country after the 16 years of education, without further plans for education or careers, it is a must for girls to get married. It is in our opinion a very sacred bond, a bond which provides security, strength and completion to not only the individuals getting married but to the society as a whole. But seeing it as a full stop to both the prospects of further studies and careers is not justified in any way. Pakistani women have certainly walked out of this framework of life and excelled in many fields like journalism, social sector, IT world, engineering, politics e.t.c.
June 23rd 2018 is the International Women in Engineering Day (trending as INWED). It is an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry. It celebrates the outstanding achievements of women engineers throughout the world. The whole point of International Women in Engineering Day is to encourage the growth of women within the engineering sector. In 2018 the INWED 2018 theme of ‘Raising The Bar’.
Pakistan has many immensely talented women working both at home and abroad to make the country and the world a better place. They have proved themselves to be both great mothers and well-reputed, significant citizens. I have compiled a list of some of the most inspiring women in Pakistan.
Can a girl become a professional Aeronautical Engineer? The answer might just be as simple as no. When you think of an Aeronautical Engineer, an image of a boy must be formed in your mind. Let me unravel that image and introduce you to this Aeronautical Engineer who is not a boy. Maria Shahzad with her love for planes is proving herself as an Aeronautical Engineer. After graduating from College of Aeronautical Engineering, Risalpur, she is now working in Airblue Airline as an Aeronautical Engineer. She endures night shifts, extra hard work, and stays strong.
Who says a girl cannot be a Site Engineer. When asked why, they do not give a specific reply. That blunt reply which stems out of the mist revolves around: this is not our culture, site job is tough, there are only men at site, freshness of a girl is affected, she has to marry soon, what people will say, etc. This type of talk has caused many talented girls to be dormant and has ruined countless careers. But this daunting drill of defining fields for girls might not be able to stop those with courage, perseverance, and determination. After graduating from Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) when Kiran Sadhwani developed her love towards tech, she wanted to be a Site Engineer. She not only faced opposition from her immediate family but also from her Thari community of Tharparker. Instead of giving up on her dreams, she decided to withstand the odds and stood firm for her aims. She has become the first Thari female Engineer in Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC), at Thar Coal Project.
Ayesha Imtiaz has always been a top scorer like many girls are during their study years. She graduated from University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. But unlike many girls, Ayesha Imtiaz is not wasting her expertise and not giving up on her endeavors. She has overcome her so called girlish fear and has become a Performance Engineer at General Electric, Saif Power Plant, Sahiwal, Pakistan.
Zainab is from Lahore. She completed her high school (O-levels) from Beaconhouse School System, Defence Campus in 2008. Then she moved to the USA with her family, where she studied ‘Engineering Science’ at Hudson Valley Community College, from where she got Associate of Science degree in Engineering Science with a stellar 4.0 GPA. Later, she got her Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is a member of the Pi Tau Sigma (International Mechanical Engineering Honor Society). In her junior year, she interned at an Automotive company “Honda R&D America”, in their Interior Design department, and following two summers she did internship at their Materials Research department. As she graduated, the firm offered her a full-time job at their Materials Research department. Now, as a Material Research Engineer, she works on new material technologies, concept cars, and materials strategy.
Director at Robotics Club:
Sadaf grew up in the small city of Sheikhupura. Earlier in her life, she was told to confine her education towards English Literature as a core subject (as this is considered as a predominantly feminine subject in the country), but her passion was always directed towards science and computers. She had to fight for her passion, and only after a struggle was she able to join computer science. Barriers for women in I.T. are very common. Pakistan has few universities that offer CS graduation. It’s even more difficult for girls not coming from urban areas, as they were often not allowed to stay in hostels. But Sadaf kept raising herself and her family, and ultimately she achieved her dream of Science & Technology education. Reminiscing about 1996, she says, “I don’t know how, but computers always fascinate me. I bought my first computer from family friends and learned how to use a mouse from them. I explored every single thing in the computer myself.” Now, Sadaf runs her own Robotics Club in Lahore, Pakistan.
Engr. Dr. Maria Riaz, a truly stellar engineer from Pakistan who has shattered glass ceilings and reached all the way to Google (Senior software Engineer at Google). Maria graduated from NUST (MCS Rawalpindi) as a Software Engineer, and later received a PhD from North Carolina State University. She is a true role model in both academic and career streams.
Maria Says “I feel inspired by individuals who are kind and compassionate as providing a little encouragement and reassurance can go a long way.
I think it is very important to have a support network as no one individual has all the answers. The most trusted way to create a support network is to be of support to others where and when you can.”
Avionics & Flight Control Engineer:
In 2008, Hibah Rahmani accepted a position Avionics and Flights Control Engineer at NASA, working on launch vehicles & rockets such as the Pegasus XL and Falcon 9. She hails from Pakistan, and spent some part of her life in Kuwait. Previously, she worked for the Boeing Company at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) as a Systems Engineer working on International Space Station (ISS) processing.
At NASA, she provides technical expertise, follows launch vehicle testing, performs data reviews and provides technical assessments of engineering issues. She has also obtained a Graduate Certificate in Space Systems Engineering from Stevens Tech and participated in the 2012 Space Studies Program offered by the International
CEO & Co Founder of TARA.ai:
Iba Masood is the Co-founder and CEO of TARA.ai, the Intelligent Product Builder. Iba is a YC Alum, and was part of YCombinator’s Winter 2015 class. She was recently awarded Forbes 30 under 30, for the 2018 list, under the field of Enterprise Technology. In August 2017, Iba became a permanent resident of the United States, through the EB-1A award, which presents individuals of outstanding ability with the green card. She is also a past winner of the MIT Global Business Plan competition, and a recipient of the UN ITU Young Innovator’s Award. She has spent the last seven years building mechanisms for pre-screening and project deployment in software, for hundreds of enterprise customers. Iba is the youngest winner of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award, and has an undergraduate degree in Finance from the American University of Sharjah, graduating magna cum laude at the age of 19. She has also previously worked at McKinsey & Co, and GE. Iba is originally from Karachi, Pakistan and was born in Sharjah, and brought up in the UAE.
Teaching Fellow & Director of IPAL:
Ms. Batool is currently a teaching fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the Information Technology University (ITU) and is also the Director of the Innovation for Poverty Alleviation Lab (IPAL) at ITU. She was a technical and research lead of a DFID funded project “Har Zindagi, Every Life Matters” that aims to improve kids’ immunization coverage and retention across Punjab. Early results of the study demonstrate the value of incentives for and tracking of vaccinators; the results also demonstrate how ICT can be utilized to push positive social change. Ms. Batool also worked as an organizer for an International Development Design Summit in Lahore in 2016 where she served as a design mentor and community liaison. This summit brought together approximately 30 participants and 10 organizers from all over the world to apply the design process to co-create prototype ICT solutions for problems the “ahead” team (including Amna) identified with lady health workers, school teachers, artisans, and other community partners.
Tasneem Zehra Husain is a theoretical physicist, LUMS Founding Faculty, Harvard University Alumna, and role model for young Pakistani girls.
She went to Trieste, Italy on a scholarship awarded by the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) for a yearlong post-graduate degree in the field of High-Energy Physics. Tasneem obtained her PhD in Theoretical Physics from Stockholm University in 2003, after which she went to Harvard University for a two-year-long post-doctoral research position. Her book, “Only the Longest Threads”, talks passionately about physics and all its beauties.
Youngest Microsoft Certified Professional:
Pakistan’s child prodigy, Arfa Karim Randhawa became the world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional at the age of nine. Her incredible achievements at such a young age prove that given the resources; girls of Pakistan are extremely intelligent, and can succeed in even the so-termed hard fields.
Such was Arfa, with a passion to help promote IT within all social classes of the country. Her brilliance shone worldwide, and Co-founder of Microsoft Mr. Bill Gates met Arfa personally to present her with the certified Microsoft Application Certificate.
Tragically, Arfa passed away on January 14, 2012, after suffering from an epileptic attack. (MAY HER SOUL RESE IN PEACE).
Engr. Beenish Bakhtawar, a great mentor and role model for young girls passionate about Engineering & Technology fields in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan.
Beenish graduated from National University of Sciences and Technology with a degree in Civil Engineering. Currently pursuing her Masters in Construction Engineering and Management, Beenish strongly feels the absence of women colleagues in Science and Tech. She knows that there is no shortage of talent in Pakistan, and is an avid believer in the enormous potential held by this country’s youth. In her words, “The girls get so much discouragement when they want to pursue a career in engineering. We might just make some actual difference in KP (Khuber Pakhtunkhwa). It would be amazing! Although I have my research going on and making time for it will be difficult, but I am in InshaAllah!”
In the future Beenish wants to continue her research focusing on the social and environmental costing of construction projects, device better ways and methods to measure impacts, and design sustainable systems, especially for infrastructure projects.
The above are but few examples of girls thinking and working out of the box. The point is that there is no field yet devised which can be genuinely gender-specific. Girls stay confused and do lots of calculations before they pursue any field. The time has come that girls choose fields and jobs that they want to, even if these careers are notoriously known to be men-only domains. Girls, must recognize their responsibility in creating a better path for other, forth-coming girls.
So ladies, after knowing the above mentioned engineers, you need not worry anymore. Just overcome your own suspicions and jump right in. You must live your life as per your potential, instead of opting to teach at school at somebody else’s opinion, or doing literally nothing at home. Choose a field that lets you dive into the ocean of brilliance. Choose a career that lets you unleash you potential.