Zainab Ghadiyali

Tell us your story.

I first said hello to a computer when 10 years old. My mom enrolled me in a programming class to keep me busy and out of trouble during a summer. It was love at first sight. I loved how I could instruct the machine to do something and it did it. From then, computers become my passion..but not career. I thought engineering/programming wasn't for me, I bought the stereotype often presented for people in those careers and figured I wanted something which involved working with people and help improve their lives. This lead me obtain degrees in Chemistry and Nutrition, and thereafter pursue a career in research and Public Health. I worked on and published research on Acupuncture, PTSD and other Psychosomatic disorders. I also lead efforts to provide free medical care to children in countries like Peru and India, working directly with hospitals and governments. It was during that time I saw first hand how technology was improving people's lives and knew I needed to pursue this field. While a Health Economics grad student, out of curiosity, I entered a Hackathon sponsored by Facebook and my team won the competition, so I was offered an opportunity to interview at Facebook. I knew I had to take a chance, switched careers and am now following my greatest passion.

What do you most want other women and young girls to know about being a woman in our digital culture?

Life as a engineer/programmer is far different than what we can see in the media typically. It is a very collaborative field, with great benefits, compensation, flexibility and the incredible opportunity to build something touching millions of lives. Challenge stereotypes, believe in yourself, and build the world you want to see.

Pass it on!

Candy Button is a brilliant engineer and a wonder person to work with. She engineers frameworks used by several iOS features at Facebook. Ellora Israni: Engineer at Facebook and co-founder of She++, an organization that works to dismantle the untrue stereotype that computer science is not a career for women.

The Women in Tech campaign exists to help redefine what women in technology means in the 21st century. Started independently by a group of professional women who, after many impassioned discussions about women in tech knew we wanted to expand this definition beyond 'traditional' technology skills. To us, it includes most every current, emerging or evolving role within an organization. By featuring leaders and emerging leaders across industries who embody this we hope to collectively 'stand up', be proud of our place in the digital world and inspire young women or those new to the 'tech space' to get involved.