A STEMM-inist, a Power System enthusiast, a mentor and a writer

Background: Education, Career and Current Portfolio

I graduated in Dec 2016 from NED-UET as an Electrical Engineer and started off my career with P&G Pakistan in Jan 2017 as an Intern. The experience there groomed me for my professional endeavours. Later in July 2017, I joined K-Electric as Trainee Engineer in Grid system maintenance, Transmission Department. After a year, I got promoted to the position of Assistant Manager in Aug 2018 and serving this role since then.

Q. What challenges did you face in pursuing this career? Did anyone support you or discourage you?

My father always wanted me to be a Doctor, since it is presumably the most favourable profession for females but I chose to take another route by opting for computer science in matric. I was highest achiever in computer science from Aga Khan board. I continued with pre-engineering and when the time actually came for deciding Engineering discipline for undergraduate studies my father wanted me to pursue computer science not only because of my grades but because it’s more of a office/desk job and I would not have to dirty my hands in the field.

I wanted to pursue mechanical or electrical engineering instead. Mechanical was a straight ‘NO’ my siblings still make fun of me stating my father’s reaction when I disclosed my desire to him. He said, ‘Kaisy kaam karogi?, CHOTU PANA LAA!’ I then started working on convincing him for electrical. We had a debate of ‘computer system engineering Vs electrical’ I finally convinced him stating the electrical is mother field while rest are daughter fields, if my interest develops, I can shift towards the daughter field whenever I like but if I realize my core interest being in the mother field then there would be no going back if I chose the daughter field.

He was being a protective father like all fathers cause I couldn’t see what he saw coming. Each and every word of his resonates in my mind while working on the field because it is actually challenging and robust as he predicted it to be.

He used to say, ‘kaisy karogi Kam field pe hathun se?’ I use to reply, ‘me thori hath dalunge, engr banunge to workers ko guide karunge, kaam to woh Karin gay!’ he used to smile back.

Well, let’s face it! We do have to inevitably dirty our hands while working, else how can we know the actual problem or propose the correct solution.

But what amazed me the most was that my father, the same man who questioned me thoroughly before pursuing a career was the most supportive one when I dipped my toes in the field. He never refused to take me to places as far as power plants in remote areas for the sake of my learning and career development.

When I use to get tired, he said,

‘yeh koi umer hai thakny ki? Humari umer me aaky kehna thak gai. Abhe Jawan ho, himat karo. Kaam ki izzat hai duniya me. Kaam Karo naam banao, izzat banao’

“This isn’t your age to get tired. You get to our age and then complain about tiredness. You are young, buckle up and get to work! The world gives you respect for your work, so honour it, and make your name.”

Believe me he never let me rest or give up. Even in my lowest low. He kept encouraging me.

My husband being the second and most supportive man while pursuing this exclusive field, and it is one of the biggest blessings. Let’s be honest. I have tough days, where I am at the verge of quitting. Days when I just want to run away from everything. On those days, he is there with me. Supports me with the house work or other work that I feel I can’t do alone. He says, ‘It’s not compulsory for you to earn cause that’s my responsibility, but if you want to quit because it’s difficult and I can make it easy with my support it help, I’ll help you. I won’t let you quit just because we could have managed it well and we didn’t’

So honestly, his companionship has sky rocketed my strength.

Q. You call yourself a STEMINNIST. Can you explain the term and your inspiration behind it?

Okay, this one is really close to my heart. Starting with the term itself, it is inspired from ‘feminist’ but at a different level. Like feminist are the supporters of the movement of Equal rights and  opportunities of sexes. STEMMINIST means the supporter of equal opportunities for women pursing STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) careers.

The inspiration behind this is self experience. Being an engineer, I felt that as a woman, a lot of times our voices aren’t heard or amplified because of the stereotype associated with our gender. We have to work twice as our male counterparts to prove ourselves capable of leading. The struggles are double the journey is perilous. In my career I have had the chance to work with and learn from some very talented men, who have believed in my potential. But there are instances where people act in a certain way ‘unintentionally’ due to the ‘social and cultural conditioning’ of their minds. I won’t blame them, but we have a long way to go.

As a STEMMINIST, I have pledged to myself to facilitate every woman out there who wants to pursue her career in STEMM. I want to make it easier for other young girls who can do wonders without facing the challenges I faced as one of the first females in my field cause I lot was spent in figuring out and making terms with. I believe, once the momentum is set we are good to go. So I want to create that space, that momentum with which any girl with sparkle and dream in her eyes can shine without facing many hurdles. I won’t say it would be easy, but I am assured it will be worth it!

  1. What would be your message to young girls who would like to pursue a career in STEAM? 

Although, this question can’t be answered in this short conversation but I would like to put it in a nutshell with this belief that inspired me and keeps me going,

“Be like that race-horse which has blinders on its sides. It gallops every obstacle in its way and doesn’t rest till it reaches it destination”.

This career path isn’t easy, but if you are passionate and have dreams to fulfill them do not let discouraging remarks penetrate your ear, rather bounce them back and believe in yourself.

And even if you get tired and feel things aren’t working for you, it’s okay. Take a break. Sort things out. Prioritize according to your circumstances and be a peace. Your career should give you happiness and contentment. And achieve that is essentially important as attaining success.

I also make sure to keep in touch with people who are positive and keep me going. I have few genuine friends who buck me up and don’t let my negative thoughts get to me.

I also believe the narrative that “mentors need mentors” so I don’t hesitate pinging them or asking for help whenever needed.

Q. You recently had a baby, that too during Covid. How has work/life balance changed for you since then?

Oh God! Birthing during Covid was a challenge in itself!

Honestly, work life balance is still a wild concept because during the initial phase of marriage and building a family, a lot is invested in figuring out how things go.

My life went through a massive change the moment I said ‘yes’ to my husband. Marriage does brings additional responsibilities but also an additional individual to share them with. It would have been impossible to sort out things and craft a schedule to “try to manage” things if my husband didn’t support (cause let’s be honest, it’s easier said than done. A lot of time things do go haywire).

After my child, my mother’s role has been very significant in managing things. She is my BIGGEST support. While I am working she takes care of my child and supports me if I have tough deadlines or I am plainly tired. With the child growing everyday is a challenge within itself but the intensity is diluted with support.

What I have realized in all this process is that we have to inculcate self-compassion and developed realistic expectations from ourselves. I used to over estimate myself a lot that I’ll do everything like super woman. But there is no such thing as super woman. We are humans in the end and sometimes we have to except our limitations. And to have partner, parents, in laws who endorse your limitations without judgment are a blessing.

Q. Any message for ElleTech and our community?

You guys are doing wonderful work! Something I had been thinking for a long time now. Something I felt that is missing and needed. I am also very happy to see that you have included ‘Arts’ in your acronym. I am a staunch believer of giving equal respect and acknowledgement to all disciplines. I truly believe that if ElleTech continues to work with this mission and zeal, we can create a positive difference in the society. Keep doing the good work!