In this latest series of articles, we are publishing interviews of women who are working as a professional or a student in the technology sector. The objective is to highlight their work and contribution to the industry as well as to the community.
In these interviews, you will find women working in technology to solve real-world problems, to break stereotypes and to create the next big impact on the tech industry. This series of interviews shows that even with the lowest rate of women participation in the labor market in Pakistan, there are still lots of smart women who are creating and using technology to work wonders.
Today, we are featuring Mishka Orakzai. Read on to know more about her work and get inspired.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, your education, and your work.
I have an MBA from the University of Peshawar. Upon graduation, I taught as an undergraduate lecturer for a few semesters and published a research paper on entrepreneurial traits in KP. For a few years, I worked in marketing and did some freelance work. But decided to switch to a career in programming after once taking a class and realizing it was something I enjoyed and was good at. Since I couldn’t go back to university, I learned to code with the help of some courses & books and eventually started working professionally as a web developer.
What are your future plans/aspirations? What impact it will have on the community/society/your team/your project?
My future plans are to build the Pinterest of Code at thiscodeworks.com. It will be an organized directory of code snippets that work. By building this I hope to save time for developers in searching & discovering snippets that work.
Usually, it takes programmers several rounds of finding snippets from Stackoverflow, Github, and anywhere else suggested by Google before it finally works in their project. Finding that one code snippet that works takes a lot of time to search and test & is a major pain point in the developer community. My plan is to create this database of good code overlaid with the key features of a social network that enables user-curated content and discovery to save time in code search.
Please brag about your career accomplishments, what are the things you are really proud of?
What has been your best education/career decision and why?
Switching from a career in marketing to one in tech at 27. It’s something I’m truly passionate about and love working on every day.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
To not compare yourself to others. Everybody achieves milestones at their own time. It’s never too late (or early) to do something you’re interested in. And hard work is never wasted. So always work hard and give a 100% to anything you’re working on even if it’s something you’re not interested in. It pays off one way or the other down the line.
Do you think Pakistan has changed as a society, in terms of accepting career-oriented women? What needs to change to help more women come forward?
Pakistan has become more accepting. But now it is no longer the social stigma that keeps women from working, but rather the lack of infrastructure especially in remote areas like FATA and Baluchistan. I’ve spoken to women from all agencies in FATA as part of a research project, and their complaints weren’t their families stopping them from working, but the lack of internet and schools and jobs to do so.
They want to work, but there is no internet to work digitally and no jobs in physical spaces. The government needs to make internet access in FATA a priority to enable the youth and young women of the region to earn from their homes.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
I think the challenge is the noise surrounding the women in the tech industry. There’s too much talk on how difficult it is being a minority which is actually discouraging young girls who may have an interest in tech. I think we need to talk less about the challenges and more about the good experiences for women in tech or any other industry because there are plenty.
Personally, as a woman in the tech & startup community in Pakistan, I’ve had nothing but encouraging and positive experiences. I’m sure the community will be just as welcoming for the next woman who joins.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
I would love for software developers in South Asia and elsewhere to be paid just as much as their counterparts in the west. It’s disappointing to be paid 10 times less for the same amount of work, no matter how much better or faster you are.
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
To keep highlighting success stories and prioritizing the best parts of being in the tech industry!
You can follow Mishka Orakzai using her profiles below.