Name: Dhana Lakshmi Kodithi
Role/Occupation: Senior Lead Engineer
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Interviewer is Harsha Kulkarni, who has recently completed her Engineering in Information Science and has joined the professional sector. She is a NTSE scholar and also bagged the WeTech Qualcomm Scholarship.
GGR had recently covered her interview
1) What motivated you to take up Engineering?
Right from my childhood, I love maths and use to stood 1st in Maths in class room exams. This enthusiasm pulled my interests towards Engineering. I still remember until my engineering 2nd year, never got chance to work on computers and created my Gmail account only after that. After Maths my next interests was towards Electronics, so my dream of pursuing Electronics useful when I joined into Wireless testing engineer in India’s first Pre-Certification Wifi Lab. From then on, I’m very fortunate to work on the latest cutting-edge technologies from last 12 years.
Year over year each experience has always given me a lot more to learn and there has always been a lot more to explore in Semi-Conductor industry.
2) Did you have a mentor in your early years? Did the mentor play a role in shaping your field of study?
Yes, my first mentor would be my mom even though she is uneducated, she always has been back of me to support me in whatever things that I do in my life. With my parent’s hard work and constant encouragement in my ups and downs, I could able to pursue Engineering and am the first in my family ever to work as SW engineer in semiconductor industry.
Since I joined into SW, there have been a lot of role models that I met in the work place and many people motivated me in different aspects of my life to mold myself for a successful career path. Able to overcome different hurdles in the professional and personal life with the inspiring people around and by listening their success stories.
3) What do you think could be the reason for gender disparity in STEM studies our country. What can we do to lessen the gap?
There is a whole tangle of reasons why gender gap still exists example social barriers like cultural stereotypes and gender bias, but I strongly feel it’s improving these days though. Yet we still find a higher proportion of men in Stem-related careers than women.
We can observe a decent percent of women at the entry level positions but that numbers are drastically diminishing when we go further up in the ladder with much bigger roles and responsibilities in the work place. There are various reasons for this one such being a woman to have more responsibilities to handle at home as well. Managing and do justice for both would be challenging for women at higher positions.
Inculcating enthusiasm towards STEM at the young age, encouraging / giving liberty to choose their interests to study STEM subjects at University and enter STEM career paths is one way to break this barrier. Initiating more diversity inclusive programs for retaining women at higher positions would greatly help them to succeed in the Tech industry.
4) You are the Regional Ambassador for Technovation program. Could you explain more about this program and your role?
Technovation (http://technovationchallenge.org) is a global competition where in girls from 10 to 16 years of age participate to create a mobile app which will solve a community problem. Girls will come out of the fear of coding, make them feel fun in coding and ignite entrepreneurial thoughts in the very young age of their career path.
I was excited to be as a mentor when Qualcomm introduced this program as part of Diversity Initiatives. Mentored Bangalore girls to participate in this Global Competition for 3 years and then strongly felt that there is a real need to take this program to rural areas where you can create huge impact with this technological competition.
Started reaching out to Govt and NGO schools around Bangalore region 2 years back to make the rural girls participate and empower them with this program.
Last year I became Regional Ambassador for this program where in I will be reaching out to schools to make them join, conduct workshops, meet ups, practice sessions etc for the girls and finally make sure to submit their apps at the end of the competition. This has got me huge networking opportunities to meet the people around the world and broadened the scope of opportunities that are available for the women professionals.
5) Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I have always dreamed of empowering rural girls along with a successful career growth and started taking the steps to pursue my passion. Building the right community network, getting to know the right methods of implementation with strong leadership skills, I feel over a period the impact will be visible in their lives and would make me emerge as a passionate leader (Hopefully).
6) Where can we find out about your work and programs?
You can find me at my FB and LinkedIn pages most actively.
Also reachable @ email@example.com
7) Could you tell more about your role at Qualcomm WeTech Global scholarship program?
Qualcomm WeTech Global scholarship program is for undergraduate students to help and encourage them to build their career path. It provides $2500 scholarship and 6 months mentorship.
I led this program for India region wherein I reach out to colleges, provide orientation about the program and make the students to apply for it.
For the first time, I proposed to provide 20% scholars from Tier 2 regions creating awareness about opportunities available for the students and impacting the regions. Extremely honored to say that I was successful in doing the same. This has taught me leadership skills while executing the program, met lot of likeminded people where you can collaborate and build similar communities around you. I’m glad to have this kind of opportunities in my life which is making me to learn and providing pathway for my career growth.
To summarize, I’m very thankful to pursue my interest and successful to enter STEM path. Now I got a new role as Chair Person for SWE (Society of Women Engineers) leading student’s related activities in collaboration with colleges. My staunch message to everyone is there are hell lot of opportunities for women only thing is just sit and pursue it with dedication.