Breaking stereotypes for women in Pakistan


“I haven’t seen many women working in the tech industry, especially in Pakistan. Whenever I saw an exception, I admired them and wanted to break stereotypes.”


Even before enrolling in Cisco Networking Academy, Anum had been breaking the mold for women in Pakistan and had earned a Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering.

“My family was very supportive, but the challenge I faced was lack of direction for females like me who wanted to pursue a technical degree,” she says.

Breaking stereotypes is challenging at the best of times, but Anum found the opportunities were limited. “It was a very challenging phase as there were very few companies that were working in electronics manufacturing and designing, and it was hard to break through,” she says.

“While job hunting, to make my search area broader, I enrolled in CCNA exploration with Networking Academy,” says Anum.

“After completing my first course at Networking Academy in 2013, I was afraid of attempting the certification exam. But my Networking Academy instructor, Mr. Muhammad Nasir Majeed, encouraged me to do so as I was the only girl in that course. He wanted me to become an example for other girls who are also afraid of becoming part of the tech industry and to encourage other girls as well.”

Leading by example

Not only was Anum setting an example for other women interested in tech in Pakistan, but also her interest in networking was growing. “I was passionate about circuit designing and electronics, but when I took courses related to computer networks my interests started building in network security,” she says.

“As I was always interested in computer networks, it was really easy for me to grasp,” says Anum of the Networking Academy course. “The courses were concise and practical with labs and hands-on experience. Every topic was explained superbly and precisely, and helpful material was readily available on Cisco sites whenever I needed it.”

Introduction to cybersecurity

“When I started my career in Information and Cybersecurity, Networking Academy introduced CCNA Cyber Ops certification,” says Anum. “I was fortunate to enroll in that course; it helped to establish my foundation in cybersecurity, and after achieving my certification, I started getting better job opportunities than before.”

“I struggled to get a good job in my initial years of job hunting,” she says. But after achieving CCNA Routing and Switching Certification in 2015, and then CCNA Cyber Ops Certification in 2018, the job opportunities continued to get better.

“Currently, I am working for a government social safety net program established to provide direct financial assistance to vulnerable and marginalized families, especially women and children,” says Anum. “Through transparent targeting and cash transfers, it aims to alleviate poverty, improve living conditions, and enhance the well-being of millions of deserving citizens.”

“I am working as a Cybersecurity Engineer, managing and testing all payment systems for potential hacking and cyber-crime and fraud.”

Multiple opportunities

“Networking Academy has always been my guiding star. It provided me with multiple opportunities.”

Anum went on to become part of the Networking Academy Student Advisory Board. “It was a great opportunity for me to represent my country and learn from other members,” she says. “After certification, I also started teaching in Networking Academy, and as a trainer, Cisco also polished my teaching skills with their training material specially made for trainers.”

Anum has helped changed the perception of women in tech in Pakistan. She continues to help those less fortunate and train some of the country’s future tech workforce.

Breaking stereotypes is just one of her many accomplishments.



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