As a twenty-something year-old, who graduated as a Mechanical Engineer, I was used to finding myself as the only woman in the engineering classrooms in India. Post undergrad, I traveled 7000 miles away from home in pursuit of higher education, after a scholarship brought me to Virginia Tech (and to the United States of America).
Here in the U.S., I learned about intersectionality - now, not only did I see fewer women in the engineering classrooms, as I had before, I saw an even fewer number of women of color - Fewer women like me.
I was introduced to the challenge of lack of Representation of women in engineering. Determined to understand and DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS: I enrolled in a PhD in Engineering Education, to learn more about why there were so few under-represented minorities in engineering, and what could be changed or done differently.
I earned my doctoral degree in 2017. Since earning my doctorate, I have used my training, education, and experience in leading Global People Research & Analytics at McGraw-Hill, as well as collaborated on several research projects funded by the National Science Foundation. I currently work at Amazon as a Research Scientist. I am passionate about changing the inequities in industry and academia for women and under-represented minorities. I also serve as Senator at the Society of Women Engineers.
The advice that I have for girls or women interested in STEM is the same that my mother offers me.
She reminds me of the Sanskrit saying, which ends as –
विद्याधनं सर्वधन प्रधानम् ॥
Roughly translated, the saying encapsulates the sentiment that what one has learned, through experiences or education, is never in vain.
In fact, it is one's most prized possession. One's education cannot be stolen, nor will it ever be a burden. It will only increase even when shared.
Many engineers- whether students or in the industry may find it difficult to find others like them. Whether it is the single mom in Graduate school, the first generation learner in freshman engineering, or the woman in an all male automotive design team - we can all benefit from hearing diverse perspectives and wide ranges of experiences from diverse types of engineers.
If you are on social media, and identify as an engineer, tag your posts with this hashtag (I already do!), to educate the world about the different colors, sizes, orientations, and inclinations that engineers come in.
BECAUSE INCLUSION MATTERS & WE BELONG!