Pashtoun Youssof


Can you tell us a little about your background?

In college, I focused on women studies, which might be a little surprising to some. Growing up, I had a very independent minded mother which likely influenced that decision. Overall though, I think I was just really driven by a sense of justice. I mean sexism has existed for a long time and it affects half of the world’s population so I really think it was something important to learn about.

How have you seen the STEM community evolve in terms of inclusivity over time?

I have worked for Presidio for a number of years now and I have noticed the STEM community evolving. I especially see this in the growing number of women taking on traditionally male dominated or leadership positions. It’s also more common to see women expressing femininity and emotion in professional environments rather than acting masculine to prove themselves. It’s taken such a long time for all of this to happen because women have so much more pressure to over achieve and avoid mistakes to the point where it’s almost unnatural. There is still a lot more work to be done about gender diversity in STEM, but it has improved overtime.

What are some of the most prominent examples of bias against women in the STEM community you've seen in your career?

Something that still happens now, which I find so shocking, is men treating women like girls in the workplace. They often refer to women by saying “hey girls” or “babe” which is really degrading in my opinion. Men also let their guard down and act more casual around women in higher posts or positions than them. You really don’t see that when men are talking to each other. Even though these are small gestures, they are really microcosms of a much larger issue - sexism. Men often don’t have the same degree of reverence or respect for women leaders. It’s especially prominent in the STEM community because historically, women haven’t been recognized for their contributions to STEM as opposed to men who were celebrated. This creates a perception that STEM is something built only by men, for men, which leads to the systemic lack of respect for women in the field.

What are some ways that Presidio works towards creating an inclusive and gender diverse workplace?

I think Presidio has definitely has worked towards making women feel more included. There are company conferences lead by women keynote speakers and workshops where women can talk about empowerment and their experiences in the field. Women should really stick together because they have power in numbers. Conferences and groups where they can support each other do make an impact.

Do you think that male allies are needed in the "Women in STEM" movement?

Yes, allying with men is important because a lot of men don’t think it’s their responsibility to advocate for women in STEM but they don’t realize that it’s not a matter of which gender, it’s just about equality. I don’t think there are enough outspoken male feminists and allies to the “women in STEM” movement. Although, they are really important because they set an example, especially for younger generations, to respect and value women in the community.