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 Alia Chughtai. 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’m a graphic designer with a strong love for photography and politics. I began this combination of passions when I was in college. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to the Maryland Institute College of Art, and it was a specialized art school. And we also had to take liberal arts classes and is a combination of Politics and Culture minor, and it led to me the work I do today.
What are your plans/aspirations? What impact will it have on the community/society/your team/your project?
I have always wanted to work in Ceramics. It’s a bizarre, entirely unrelated to everything that I do today, but I feel like I need to back in a place where I can create with my hands.
I am currently learning creative coding, so I can stop being dependent on developers for the intricate work that my mind manages to conjure up. I want to be able to do that work my self.
Please brag about your career accomplishments, what are the things you are proud of?
In 2008, I was the leading the Creative department, and we’d won a few Promax BDA awards for our Pakistan elections work. Following year, we had no money to apply in the awards again, and the organizing committee asked me of Promax BDA to use, and they would waive the few hundred euros per entry because they felt we were a strong creative team and our work gave the competition, a serious run for their money. I have that email saved. So the days when I feel like I have a creative block and feel I cannot do anything, I sometimes pull it out and read it, and even a decade later, it makes me smile.
What has been your best education/career decision, and why?
That’s a complicated answer because I feel everything I’ve ever done has led me to the next stage in my life. My father wanted me to stay in Pakistan after A levels, but I was very adamant to go abroad, and of all places which was an art school. After college, I ended up working in a design house, which led me to advertising, where I fell in love with design for social good. And thus, moving into news. And now, almost 12 years later, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
Stay honest, and take care of the work; the work will always take care of you.
Which woman inspires you and why?
I’m in awe of so many great women around the world doing all these fantastic things. Hard to name any one person.
Do you think Pakistan has changed as a society, in terms of accepting career-oriented women?
Absolutely. The struggle to explain why it’s essential for women to work is lesser. I respect fathers and brothers who encourage the girls to not compromise on anything other than being financially independent.
What needs to change to help more women come forward?
They need to believe they can be anything they want to be. And to stop caring what people will think.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
I’m in awe of the younger generation of women. They are so much more confident, socially out there and not scared of trying new things. My age, I feel, we were so much more awkward and had conservative parents who we had to evolve as we got older. But it’s important to remind ourselves, that 20 something-year-olds, are raised by parents about 10-15 years older than my generation, and a much more new age upbringing.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
Gender balance. Come on, girls; you can code, you can do everything you want. Demand proper work timings, and don’t do jobs you don’t love.
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
Connect us to women who are fearless and willing to do experimental work.
You can follow Alia Chughtai using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.