This week, we had the pleasure of talking to Samia Usman about her experience as a Software Developer in Pakistan, and how having the courage to speak up has allowed her to pursue a career in tech, while raising her three children.
How did you get into the tech industry?
It was based on my uncle’s advice, which I’m really happy I followed! While I was at highschool, he spent some time researching different career paths for me and suggested a career in IT, saying that technology was the future. So I signed up to complete a Bachelor in Information Technology. My parents wanted me to get married as soon as I finished, but I wanted to start my career first, and they supported my decision.
What do you love most about being a software developer?
After trying a few different applications, I decided to pursue a career in mobile app development because I loved the challenge of solving real-time problems. What I find most satisfying about my job is automating processes to improve systems that have been around for years.
What’s your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement is being a mother to my three kids. Working as a mother is so challenging and I wouldn’t have been able to pursue a career and raise my children without my husband. He’s played a major role in supporting me by looking after the kids when I’ve had to attend important meetings or interviews.
What’s it like being a woman in tech, in Pakistan?
Overall my experience has been positive. There was one incident during my first job, where I felt degraded by a male colleague. I’ve always been confident about speaking up, so I immediately raised it with my manager, and he made changes to the team. Being brave and speaking up was so important. The workplace shouldn’t be a toxic place, it should be supportive of everyone so that you don’t lose your confidence and can focus on your career.
What does embrace equity mean to you?
It means that we should give equal opportunities to women. For me, I think we need to empower women to achieve management positions – we have the capability to change the world and the power to solve problems.
Have you experienced equity in the workplace?
Flexibility is crucial in creating an inclusive workplace. About five years ago, I was very sick – some days I couldn’t move or even sit up. My manager and I agreed on reducing my hours as well as a hybrid working arrangement. This was pre-covid so flexible working was a new concept, and it saved my career. Working from home meant I could rest when I needed to, and still complete my day to day tasks. If he hadn’t supported me with this opportunity, I may have had to quit my job.
Do you have any advice for women pursuing a career in tech?
You should have at least one goal for where you want to be. When you begin your career, it’s important to stay focused on this goal, and you can achieve anything.
I will always support other women to speak up about what they want. Don’t stay silent, there are so many ways they can fulfill their dreams.