PWiC Seattle Meetup: Event Highlights

Pakistani Women in Computing Seattle Chapter meetup displayed a diverse and strong community presence of Pakistani women and men from tech in the Pacific Northwest of the US.

A total number of 52 women men and children made to the Pakistani Women in Computing Seattle’s first ever community meetup on January 27, 2019, at Redmond Regional Library, Redmond Washington.

PWiC Seattle Meetup Jan 2019

On a chilly day in Seattle, the room at the Redmond Regional Library was full within a few minutes of starting the event. A diverse community from Seattle gathered for the event and we also had some surprise guests of non-Pakistani origin who were paying a regular visit at the library, found the event really interesting and stayed there for the whole session.

Thanks to all of those who made it to the event, especially children who made it really authentic with their presence.

Here is a glance at the event.

PWiC Seattle Meetup

Program

The meetup consisted of inspirational talks by the community members, a fundraiser call for CodeGirls, a Q&A session by the speakers and a delicious lunch at the end.

Speakers

PWiC invited speakers from the community to share their journeys with the audience to highlight the successes and the failures and their process of evolving through time given the circumstances and opportunities around them. We also had the pleasure to host Shamim Rajani, who was a guest speaker from Karachi and shared about the CodeGirls program with the audience.

Speakers and Volunteers — PWiC Seattle Meetup

Farah Ali — VP Engineering PDE at Electronic Arts, Co-Founder PWiC

Farah Ali is the co-founder of PWiC and she kicked off the session by sharing her journey of pursuing a career in computing. Farah started her education at LUMS and later got transferred to the University of Waterloo Canada. Before joining Electronic Arts, she worked in leadership positions at Microsoft and eBay.

As a kid, Farah loved playing video games with her brother and it inspired her to pursue a career in computing.

She highlighted that computing is a level playing field despite gender and open for anyone to join who works hard and has a positive attitude towards winning. She mentioned the negative impact of stereotyping gender roles at a young age and that’s why she encourages her daughters to play video games.

Farah also mentioned her vision to create an impact and her passion to give back to the community that eventually led her to join hands with Huma Hamid to start a global network of Pakistani Women in Computing.

Farah Ali — PWiC Seattle Meetup

Huma Hamid — Software Engineer, Techmaker Mom, Co-Founder PWiC

Huma Hamid is the co-founder of PWiC and she shared her journey of studying computing and working in the tech industry in Pakistan and in the US and how her personal and professional experiences, pain points and exposure to global conferences as a volunteer finally led to the formation of Pakistani Women in Computing page on Facebook that built the foundation of today’s PWiC global initiative.

Huma shared that her boys who loved to build rockets ships and play with dinosaurs changed her perspective about the empowering ability to build and create and why women should participate in building the technology of the future.

She also emphasized her personal and professional growth became possible by connecting and learning as part of a community, which later got translated into PWiC’s vision to “Connect, Learn and Grow Together”.
Huma Hamid — PWiC Seattle Meetup

Sundas Khalid — Data Scientist at Amazon, PWiC Seattle Lead

Sundas Khalid is the Chapter Lead for PWiC Seattle and she shared her journey of returning back to education and starting a career in computing after a six years gap between her high school education and joining the University of Washington. She is the first female in her family to pursue a university education and a career, highlighted that working and persisting hard can get anyone closer to achieving success. She shared that her failures got translated into learning opportunities because of her positive attitude and strong work ethics. She emphasized that working hard and never giving up eventually leads to success. Sundas shared that she loves PWiC because it celebrates its members and that’s one of the reasons she is passionate about volunteering with PWiC.

Sundas’s story was highly applauded by the audience.

Sundas also shared the roadmap for Seattle chapter in 2019 that will be focused on building and strengthening a local community in Seattle and running workshops on returnship and career counseling.

Sundas Khalid — PWiC Seattle Meetup

Shamim Rajani — COO Genetech Solutions, Founder CodeGirls

Shamim Rajani was a guest speaker at the PWiC Seattle Meetup event and also a known face in Pakistan’s tech industry. Shamim traveled from Karachi to visit her family in Seattle and accepted the invitation from PWiC to share the CodeGirls initiative with Seattle’s local community.

Shamim shared her journey of starting a company at the tender age of 17 and how it led to her success as an entrepreneur despite all the challenges she had to face as a woman running a company in a male-dominated industry.

Shamim shared her passion of serving the community and enabling women for success through tangible learning and skill development, which led to the formation of CodeGirls program along with Faiza Yousaf. Together, they were able to create a strong impact in the lives of many girls by launching a coding boot camp focused on technical and entrepreneurial skill development for girls.

Shamim also made a call for contributions by sponsoring a girl’s education.

Shamim Rajani — PWiC Seattle Meetup
Shamim and Faiza’s work for CodeGirls and WomenInTechPK was highly applauded by the audience.
Learn more about CodeGirls journey here and donate to the program here.
Faiza Yousaf — PWiC Seattle Meetup

Alishba Khawaja — The Moderator

Alishba Khawaja, a Program Manager at Microsoft moderated the Q&A session with the speakers and the audience. The Q&A session was vibrant with a number of questions related to volunteering with PWiC, navigating a career in computing and things to look for while picking up a company for job.

Alishba also took care of the daunting task of selecting the menu for the lunch and made everyone fell in love with the meal options she picked.

Thank you, Alishba! ;)

Alishba Khawaja — Moderating a Q&A Session at PWiC Seatle Meetup

Social Networking

A sub-group of attendees had social networking over lunch after the event.

Audience — Seattle Meetup

Diverse Audience

One of the highlights of PWiC Seattle meetup was its diverse audience that included women, men, and children. It reflected that PWiC doesn’t only talk about diversity and inclusion, it also practices it. A number of women participating at the event loved the vibe of celebrating and creating an environment where they can bring their authentic selves as techmakers, mothers, and partners to the event.

Diverse Community — PWiC Seattle Meetup

Special Shoutouts

Beenish Ali contributed by taking care of the logistics of the event and made it possible at the Redmond Regional Library.

Nataliya Khan, one of Seattle’s most popular photographer and also a techmaker mom captured some really memorable shots of the event.

Thank you Beenish and Nataliya!

Partners

PWiC is also grateful to its partners who made a successful event possible.

PWiC Seattle Meetup Partners

Last but not least, our amazing community of Seattle made this event a possibility and a success.

Please follow this space for our future events!

Thank you,

Pakistani Women in Computing

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About the Author

Huma Hamid, a tech-maker mom and Co-founder Pakistani Women in Computing. You can reach out to her via LinkedIn and Twitter.