Meet Sadaf: A Pakistani Woman Leading in Tech

Sadaf knew it would be hard for her to enter the notoriously male-dominated tech field, given the deeply entrenched gender norms in Pakistan -- but she did it anyway.

A Project of
Advancing Gender Equality and Empowering Women and Girls

I could see how the world had been changed by information technology and this fascinated me.”

Sadaf knew it would be especially hard for her to enter the notoriously male-dominated field given the deeply entrenched gender norms in Pakistan, but she did it anyway. Not only did she earn her Master’s in Cloud-Dew Computing, but she was awarded the prestigious TechWomen Fellowship. The fellowship is a career-shaping program that enables global women leaders to be immersed in some of the most prestigious tech-driven U.S. companies.

An Uphill Battle

The difficulty for a woman to break-in and secure employment in the field of tech and computer science in Pakistan cannot be underestimated. According to several studies about Pakistan, there is a pervasive internalized belief that the Internet is not appropriate for women and some women do not use it because of negative social perceptions. Some families fear the Internet and ban women and girls from its use due to concerns about cyberstalking and online harassment, and sex trafficking.

Breaking Barriers

“I feel the way to break [the barriers] down is to demonstrate our true potential and the quality of our contribution to our fields.”

Sadaf’s ability to break through the science technology engineering and math (STEM) barrier is thanks to the support of her parents, friends, and colleagues. During her fellowship at TechWomen Sadaf had in-depth meetings with highly esteemed executives from companies like Twitter, LinkedIn and Google and was immersed in a four-week professional co-mentorship program at Autodesk in the Bay area where she was immersed in a holistic professional development process. She was exposed to emerging technologies including Media and Entertainment, Generative design technologies for highlighting global social issues, Fusion 360, 3D Printing, Visual Reality and Augmented Reality.

“By sharing their experiences and personal styles of leading teams, the Autodesk executives inspired me to harness authenticity and innovative leadership. It was particularly motivating to meet and exchange notes with women in leadership roles.”

EAI is thrilled that Sadaf decided to return to her work integrating her burgeoning tech expertise with her behavior change communications background. Sadaf now leads EAI’s tech integration on some critical projects for women in Pakistan. EAI approaches gender equality with a mainstreaming lens and has made a concerted effort to support Sadaf in continuing to build her skill and grow in her leadership. 

As of now I have the hands-on experience in using all of these amazing emerging technologies, I am hoping to integrate the relevant ones in my work at EAI Pakistan where I would also want to enhance the M&E part of our projects through ICT by using the digital engagement strategies and new media tools that are used globally for more accuracy and efficiency.”

About TechWomen

TechWomen is an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that brings emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central, and South Asia, and the Middle East together with their professional counterparts in the United States for a mentorship and exchange program. Participants are provided with access to networks, resources, and knowledge to empower them to reach their full potential. During the five-week program, participants engage in project-based mentorships at leading companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, participate in professional development workshops and networking events, and travel to Washington, DC. for targeted meetings and special events to conclude the program.


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