Ignorance is not Bliss

I have always been in very male dominant environments — three older brothers, cousins, playground friends (when my mom let me out to play), college, work. But it was something I never noticed or ever heard myself say— ‘ There aren’t many girls around me’. It did not hit me till many years later when I joined a huge corporation and people started to make comments like ‘You are too pretty to be an Engineer’.

I blame my lack of awareness on my up bringing (this is not a negative statement =)). My mom was always very encouraging and always wanted me to strive for the best. Never made me feel I was not capable. Things did change as I got older and cultural pressures kicked in. By then I was already set on my ways and knew I wanted to be successful. Success to me was not about being a CTO someday (although I do aspire to become one) but to me it was doing the task at hand whole heartedly and doing it well with passion and curiosity.

Coming back to being the minority at work, I soon realized this was a social issue and my ignorance on the situation was doing more harm than good — specially for the society and my community. I realized if I was more aware of the situation I could have supported and helped a friend from dropping out of engineering school. Her decision not to continue with an engineering degree had nothing to do with her ability but because she felt like she did not belong. One day at work when I overheard coworkers talking about a team event and golfing was the top pick — I realized that it was this sense of belonging that was missing. I have to point out that having worked at different companies, organizations with younger colleagues, the millennials as we refer ourselves have lesser of an issue of inclusion than organizations that have a bit of an older crowd. This is just my personal observation.

So how do we change this, how did I decide to change this. I volunteered. I mentored a girl. I reached out to male colleagues and asked them to be my supporters, mentors, advisers (and many of them have been over the years). Opened up to friends in the hope to create more awareness.

I know there are many blogs talking about inclusion of women in the tech world and this is one of them. Reach out, help hire women in your organization, teach girls the importance of inclusion, tell them they are capable, inspire them and be inspired by their dreams.

“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish” — Michelle Obama

Make sure you say that to a woman in your life, to women around you!

Happy International Women’s Day!