Each year, on International Women’s Day, we recognize outstanding measures women take in various fields, especially those dominated by men, despite facing diverse challenges such as the pay gap, gender bias, stereotypes, and norms.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BreaktheBias. Out Editor in Chief, Farhat Kapadia Mehboob spoke to Rida Tarique, a Mechanical Engineer who works at the S. Mehboob & Company Consulting Engineers, Karachi.
Rida is working in a predominantly male-dominated field. She tells her inspiring story on how she started her career, the barriers she faced & overcame, and how she chose to #breakthebias. She provided us with insightful information that can help women break barriers in order to retain themselves in their jobs and how also how they can advance their careers, in this profession.
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, as an engineer what did you study, how did you come to this field and what do you do now?
My name is Rida Tarique. I am a mechanical engineer by profession and I’m currently working as a senior mechanical design engineer at S. Mehboob & Company Consulting Engineers, Karachi. I graduated from NED in 2014 and since then I’m working as a design engineer
2. Tell us about the cultural barriers you faced when you joined the workforce as an engineer as sometimes women get degrees but can not continue in their professions?
At the time, when I started my career, I was not married. As you all know that mechanical engineering is the most male dominant field out of all the engineering fields and unfortunately, in our culture, careers are still categorized by gender. At the time when I selected mechanical engineering, as my profession, a lot of people around me, told me that “This is not the right profession for you”. Under this situation, you may feel very stressed out but you have to stick by your decision. You can only overcome this situation by believing in yourself and by doing the hard work. This is the main thing, by doing so, you can overcome the pressure.
3. You had a passion for your job, and you decided you will pursue your career as a mechanical engineer. After you got married, a new dimension was added to your life, and then you also have a one-year-old daughter. Tell us how did you go through these different phases in your life and still managed to continue in your profession
As I really enjoy every bit of my work and al the projects that I have done, it is different challenging, and being a mother I go come extra mile on a daily basis to maintain my professional life and my personal life and to take care of my daughter. Behind all these struggles, all this hard work, I have immense family support, especially my mother. She is my main support system without her, I don’t think I’ll be able to maintain any of the things I am able to.
4. Do you feel that your work-life balance is managed well because of your support system
Yes, Alhumdullilah. In terms of in-laws, they are also supportive of my career [Allah ka shukar]. My husband has also told me that I can do whatever makes me happy while I maintain my personality.
5. How easy or difficult is it for women to continue working in the engineering profession after they get their degree? I know the doctors, a lot of women drop out of the workforce. How about engineering and what are you doing to #BreaktheBias?
Throughout the university, male and female students succeed equally in the classrooms, but whenever they enter into professional life and start working in a team, many of the girls are supposed to do the calculations and the office-related work. They exclude them from the real engineering work that will be done on the site, which ultimately results in the slower technical growth of female engineers.
I showed interest and I also got an opportunity, with family support and my bosses, I am able to visit the sites but there are many female engineers that do not get a chance or are limited to avail similar opportunities because of long-distance or security reasons.
6. To advance it in the engineering profession, you’ll need to have site visits. So what is that thing that will #BreakTheBias in this industry which allows more women to want to easily be able to do that?
As mentioned earlier, sites are often at a long-distance, or sometimes the environment of the site is not safe enough to send a female engineer on their own. This is the bias that needs to break in order to help women get on the site teams. You can’t grow professionally same as the male engineer unless you visit the sites and witness things such as the algorithm – how the work is being done, how the chillers and boilers are being handled on the site etc.
7. What helped you when you were in a similar situation?
I have visited many sites and taken an overview of many projects. What’s most important is family support and secondly, your team members, who must treat you as an equal member of the team, regardless of your gender. These two combined will help you move forward and grow in this profession.
8. In the Mechanical Engineering Profession, how do you think other women can be empowered?
For me, empowerment is self-devotion and hard work. If you stick to your decision, you will be able to convert every challenge you will face and move forward with your hard work, and my advice for all the young girls who are want to pursue their careers in the field of engineering to stay positive inside out and surround yourself with positive people.
Pakistan’s population comprises at least 50% of women. However, Pakistan has ranked 153 out of 156 countries, according to the world economic forum, which is very low. Regardless, there are many women who are coming out into the workforce, whether they are lawyers, doctors, engineers, or, many other professions, and they provide inspiring stories for other women to know how they started their careers, how they have developed professionally and how they have managed to work after getting married, facing different barriers, whether they are cultural, professional, personal.
International Women’s Day 2022: Pakistani Celebrity Ali Rehman Highlights in an Exclusive Interview that it is time to #BreaktheBias. Read the full story here:
Pakistani Celebrity Ali Rehman has highlighted in an exclusive interview that it is time to #BreaktheBias, and let women do whatever they want. Rehman’s upcoming drama serial, Badshah Begum, is a female-centered story set in the fictional town of Peeranpur in Pakistan’s south-eastern province. The series follows the story of the female protagonist, Jahan Ara, who is set to become the seat’s first matriarchal occupant.
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