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Meet the team with Maria Shoaib: an engineer invested in women’s rights to education

October 11, 2018

Introduced to computers and running Linux commands at a young age, Maria’s curiosity for math led her to complete engineering studies in Pakistan, which is a rare opportunity for women in her home country. When she isn’t coding away for the Detectify backend team, Maria is embracing her wanderlust and helping other women in Pakistan get into technology education through her initiative.

Detectify Backend Dev Maria Shoaib

An early start in tech

Maria has always been interested in solving problems. She can still remember when her dad brought home five huge old computers to their house when she was 15-years old. She spent a week trying to figure out how to connect them into their own multicast network to be able to broadcast messages using Linux commands: “I tried to send a song through it, but that failed miserably. I later figured out how to reverse it to send chat messages instead, sending just the lyrics. I was crazy happy when it worked!”

A woman making her own path

Originally from Pakistan, Maria’s parents are well-educated individuals and they encouraged her to study at a young age: “I was really lucky my parents wanted me to study, not many parents want or can let their daughters study in Pakistan. When I started university, I was one of three women in a class of 600 men studying engineering. Today I’m very grateful to my parents for encouraging me.”

Maria chose engineering due to her early interest in math. When she got introduced to programming in a course by chance, she was hooked. After completing her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, she was eager for a new challenge in software engineering: “I was confident in my knowledge of hardware and got curious about what else I could create.”

Adventures away from home

After university in Pakistan, Maria wanted to travel to see another part of the world and decided to pursue her master’s degree in the USA at R.I.T where she was a recipient of the Fulbright scholarship. After her studies and a stint in research, she went back home to become a Product Manager. When her husband was offered a job in Sweden, Maria followed her heart to another adventure.

Maria first encountered Detectify when she was working as a Product Manager in Pakistan. “We wanted to make a product that would compete with Detectify and spent a lot of time on trying to figure out how to do it,” she explains, “in the end we didn’t make it because we realized Detectify’s product was way too good for us to compete, however, that’s what made me apply upon my arrival in Sweden.” Now she’s working on the scanner tool as part of our backend team.

Working with women’s rights in Pakistan

After her journey through several countries, universities and workplaces Maria has seen the importance of education and its empowerment. This led her to help other women make the same journey: “I am very privileged and I have had the opportunity to do so much because I have parents whom supported me and educated me about my choices in life. Now I want to encourage women in my country to study tech or whatever they want!”

Today she is running the initiative, Stemming From Her, together with two friends. They actively advocate for women’s rights to education in Pakistan by organizing workshops that empower women with technological skills and education. Maria meets many young women, between the ages of 12-18, when she travels around schools in Pakistan. Each workshop discusses opportunities created from studying engineering and higher education in general. So far Maria has helped over 90 women get into paid scholarships in the US and Pakistan through this initiative. She’s truly a woman for women in tech!

Quick Q/A with Maria:

Mac or PC? Mac. It’s easy to set up software on a Mac!

iPhone or Android? iPhone. They have the most user-friendly interface.

Backend or frontend development? Backend because that’s where the business logic and all the action happens. Frontend is more of the pretty stuff which is nice, but I want the action!

What’s your #1 security tip? In general, I think that an important aspect of security is to find the right software and frameworks for the problem that you want to solve. Don’t just use a programming language or framework because you’re used to it. You should do your research to get the best and most secure result for your purposes. I think that is important to consider your options no matter if you’re a PO, backend developer or frontend developer.

Could you picture yourself working with Maria and the Detectify team? Apply for one of our many open positions on our career page.