Right on the heels of the International Women’s Day celebrated annually on 8th March,
GDG Karachi decided to hold their DevFestW, where the “W” stood for Women.
GDG Karachi stands for Google Developer Group Karachi – a volunteer oriented community
run by developers which organizes events for developers who are interested in Google’s
developer technologies and open source technologies. GDGs all over the world can be
found engaged in organizing DevFests which is made up of seaker sessions covering
different Google’s products, all-day hack-a-thons or both. In order to facilitate and promote
diversity within the community, DevFestWs, that is DevFests for Women were held across
the globe to help bridge Google’s technologies with women developers.
The day started off with the customary recitation of the Holy Quran which was followed by a
short welcome speech by the organizing team made up of Faraz Baig and Syed Shoaib
Ahsan. The both felt that women in Pakistan had the potential and the opportunity as well to
excel in the technology field and pointed out that DevFestW would be a good platform to
guide them on their path towards success as professionals. The event was divided into
three different slots. The GREEN SLOT was targeted towards developers whose skills
ranged between beginner to intermediate. This was followed by the BLUE SLOT which
focused on developers with intermediate to advanced skill levels. The day was rounded off
by the RED SLOT which could be comprehensible to both techies as well as non-techies.
Even though some might have felt the above to be merely lip service at best, but GDG
Karachi definitely backed up what they said by having Madiha Chan – a Pakistani female
software engineer working for Google at their Mountain View facility – deliver the keynote
speech as well as an interesting session on Android development. Both of these sessions
were held on Google Hangout as Madiha joined in from her home in the US. Madiha also
pointed out that she was really proud of being associated with an event that was targeted
specifically towards females in the technology sector. The audience and the organizers
were equally pleased and appreciated Madiha’s presence since it was pretty late on her
side due to the time difference. Next up was Aditya Gupta who joined in from India from
Google Hangout and conducted a session on Android Application Security. This wrapped
up the GREEN SLOT.
The BLUE SLOT was initiated immediately after the lunch and the very first session was
based on Performance Engineering conducted by Imran Moinuddin – CEO of NexDegree
Private Limited. This turned out to be the most popular sessions of the evening as Imran
talked of the most common myths that he has come across during performance engineering
exercises. Even though this is a fairly dry topic for most, Imran relied on humor (as well as
lots of kittens) to keep the audience engaged. Next up on the stage was Badar Khushnood -
the face of Google in Pakistan. His talk focused on motivating the youth towards immersing
themselves in the technology sector as it presented a lot of opportunities that can be
availed in order to climb the ladder of success.
The RED SLOT was kicked off by a talk on Google’s Adwords conducted by Imtiaz Noor
Mohammad.It turned out to be quite an informative session for the audience as it was
based on things that developers don’t really deal with much, and helped to educate them
about the usability and benefits of Adwords as a tool for marketers. Things they touched
upon were differentiating between impressions and clicks, matching keywords for posting
ads as well as a lot more. This was followed by a panel discussion which tackled Online
Privacy first and then Online Career Opportunities subsequently. The panel was comprised
of Jehan Ara (P@SHA), Sana Saleem(Bolo Bhi), Fariha Akhtar (TPS), Maria Mahesar
(RedBull) and Farzal Dojki (NextGenI). The open and informal nature of the panel
discussion allowed the audience to engage with the panel members and a lot of opinions,
questions and answers were shot back and forth. The whole panel took part in discussing
the topics at hand and all of them had something interesting to share and were able to
leverage their collective wisdom in order to guide the audience members.
The event was sponsored by Google and Red Bull who took the responsibility of keeping
the energy levels high of the audience as well as the speakers. Another sponsor, Sam’s
Cake Factory, provided the audience with delectable treats in the form of cupcakes with the
android logo on top of each.
Even though the whole day had taken a lot out of the participants, there was a sense of
hope and optimism especially amongst the female participants. As the organizers put it, “It
would be awesome to see the participants being inspired by someone like Madiha Chan
who is a female, comes from Pakistan, works in the tech industry, and can CODE! That is
one combination that we really need to see on a more consistent basis.”
All in all, the event certainly lived up to its billing, even though there were something that
could have been handled better. But based on the enthusiasm of the organizers, I would
not put it beyond them to get better with the passage of each event.
Here’s wishing the best of luck to GDG Karachi for all future events!!!!