STARS OF STEM: JYOTI BALI SHARMA, SYSTEMS ENGINEER, ALCATEL-LUCENT

It’s no wonder Jyoti grew up to have a career in a STEM field. She grew up on campus at one of the most prestigious engineering schools in India. Her mother was a teacher. And her father was a university administrator at IIT Delhi.
She recalls her first “aha!” moment.
As a child, she visited a dam. There she experimented with liquid nitrogen and realized how much fun science could be!

As she grew older, parents’ friends were wringing their wrists about marriage. Her parents sent her abroad to get her Masters. As her friends steadily got hitched, Jyoti was working away, getting her PhD in Electrical Engineering.

Jyoti did eventually get married. And the biggest challenge she faced while a Systems Engineer with Alcatel-Lucent was to continuing to work while having her two children. “As an engineer, I had even had alot of flexibility. But it was hard.”

Today she has a teenage daughter. “In my mind,” says Jyoti, “The question isn’t ‘Should Annika have a career in a STEM field?’ By 2020, 70 percent of the jobs will be in STEM fields. Will Annika have a career at all? Are we preparing our girls for a shot at those positions?”
Jyoti is currently the Chair of Women in Engineering of North New Jersey chapter of the IEEE. She is seeking ways to educate girls about STEM professions when they are as young as elementary school age. “I say to them, try a new STEM activity over the summer. You’ll see for yourself how much fun it could be to create something from scratch that many people can use.” Jyoti has worked hard as a woman in a male dominated field. But she’s also seen the respect she has garnered from her male colleagues as she made contributions in the field of wireless. “ I’m proud to have contributed to wireless research and how that impacts the way our society communicates today!”

She encourages parents to be part of the process. “Sign your girls up for robotics classes or coding clubs just as you would your boys. AND if your daughter hesitates to go alone, partner with a friend’s daughter to accompany her.”

In her observation, women provide a unique perspective and solution to problems — -”Having a woman on the team is a huge asset for any organization. Since we already make the majority of household purchasing decisions in America, its time we invent some of things America uses too!”

Thursday, June 25th, Ladydrinks hosts a fashion show w/ 16 South Asian female role models employed in STEM fields walking. Jyoti is one of them. Proceeds benefit a young girl from the Boys and Girls Club Newark aspiring to study in a STEM field. Buy your tickets herehttp://bit.ly/1JOsrcy

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