Female role models doing exceptional things in tech have always existed. Hopefully future generations will believe that STEM is gender neutral.
As a new arrival in the Silicon Valley and a woman, my head is full of statistics and charts. Not the kind that data scientists use to power their decision-making, but the kind that has made its way into the public discourse more and more in the last few years—diversity numbers in the tech industry.
Armed with this data, I set out to talk to my company’s female CEO, Sundari Mitra, as well as female engineers whom I see every day at work. I wanted to understand how their experiences tied in with all the research emerging on the subject.
While several interesting conversations resulted, one thread that stuck with me was the impact of various types of cultural messaging and the crucial need for role models. With my very small sample size of five women, three had family members who were engineers or working in STEM. Each cited this an important factor when it was time to make a choice about what to study at college. They saw the challenging work their fathers, brothers, and in one case mother, did, and decided this what they wanted to do as well.
At the time, be it the 80s, 90s, or even 2000s, in the U.S. or India, this choice led them into male-dominated university classrooms, and thereafter, an even more XY chromosome filled zone: the tech industry. All of them have survived and thrived, though not without some battle scars.
Click here to read more ...