Not Measured by Gender: Firdaus Salim’s Vision for an Inclusive Tech Industry

Celebrated for having the most inspiring conversation in 2021 with ALI Founder Fred Swaniker, ALX Software Engineering graduate Firdaus Salim is a rising force to be reckoned with.

Despite entering the world of tech with no prior experience, her tenacity and passion for learning have opened doors for a promising future. Now, as a blogger, Technical Writer and Technical Mentor with ALX’s Software Engineering team, she offers training and support to others on their own tech learning journeys. 

Can you share a bit about your background and how it led you to your current position at ALX?

I am an alumna of the ALX Software Engineering programme who joined the Software Engineering Mentors team after graduation. During my time in the programme, I was inspired by the support I received from my mentor – Maarten van Middelaar –  and wanted to join his team in order to continue doing the same for other learners.

What motivated you to enter the tech field through the ALX Software Engineering programme?

I wanted to be able to access the different job opportunities open to people who may not have the typical academic qualifications but have the required tech skill set. ALX provided the opportunity for me to access those industry-ready skills.

What are some of your key responsibilities at ALX?

In my role as a Technical Mentor, I support learners in the Software Engineering programme, organise online learning events and attend to the learners’ queries.

What do you love most about your work? What are some of the highlights for you?

Being there to help make the tech learning experience better and nurture Software Engineers whilst improving myself as one.

Why do you believe the world needs more women in tech?

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Tech is among the fastest-growing industries in the world. With women making up almost 50% of the global population, they have the potential to excel in filling opportunity gaps when given adequate training and support.

What barriers or challenges have you encountered in your career journey, and how did you overcome them?

I have struggled in the past with finding my voice. Seeing fellow female colleagues speak up – women who are brilliant, thoughtful, creative, and resilient – was a huge motivator for me. Still, it took me years to learn how to be more assertive – a trait that seems to come naturally to a lot of men.

One could argue that women’s voices are more valuable in the tech industry because we are underrepresented in that space, and that may certainly be true. However, I believe our perspectives are worth sharing simply because we are competent, intelligent, proactive individuals with merit-worthy ideas that can improve projects and processes. That’s a personal truth I’ve come to appreciate.

Who inspires you?

Maarten van Middelaar. I learned so much from this gentleman. Among the lessons is being appreciative of the power of women in the workforce.

What excites you about the future of technology and innovation in Africa?

The normality of advancement in tech gives me the drive to be better and adapt. The opportunities for continuous learning are what I look forward to most.

What do you see as some of the biggest opportunities for women in tech?

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Remote roles that enable women to work while fulfilling their roles as girls, sisters, mothers, wives – to mention a few.

What mindset do you believe is critical for women in tech to succeed in their journeys?

Persistence, a growth mindset, and continuous learning.

What message or advice would you give to young women considering a career in tech?

Dive in and strive to improve. Intelligence is not measured by gender.

ALX develops well-rounded tech professionals who are equipped with both the technical proficiencies and soft skills that will enable them to thrive in the future of work. Find out more about how ALX is providing opportunities to women across Africa to launch impactful careers in tech.

#WomenInTech #BeBoldLeadTech

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