Our April WIM article on Women, STEM, and South Asia was contributed by Tayyaba Farooqi, who is with the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan. She wondered when she was invited to contribute whether the problems faced by women in technology in developing countries could be understood by an international audience because the unique ingrained social norms, or unconscious biases, within developing countries have made gender discrimination seem so normal that it goes unnoticed and is acceptable by both men and women. She explains that this is because in her culture education of male offspring is prioritized over that of females and parents instead encourage their daughters to attend female institutes, however, STEM courses are not offered in those schools. For females who are able to take technical courses, the majority of teachers in technical areas are male, leaving a communication gap between them and their female students. An additional hurdle for women is that the culture sets expectations that women should let their male counterparts take the lead in projects, so often the contributions of women go unseen. All of these factors serve to dissuade women from pursuing careers in technology.
Tayyaba calls for women in developing countries to not wait for society to change, but to be vocal and proactive in making themselves heard and mentoring young women who wish to enter STEM fields. She also believes women need to teach their young sons to be respectful of women and how to behave in a co-environment.
Don’t miss this woman’s startling insight into tech women in developing countries!
WIM Chair 2022