Name: Sharanya Iyer
Interviewer is Harsha Kulkarni, 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 cover her interview
1) What motivated you to take up Engineering?
I remember as a kid, I had always been fascinated by Computers. Growing up, the infinite possibilities for innovation in the field of Technology Drew me towards the field of Computer Science. I was quite passionate to pursue in this field. At the same time, the vastness and complexity of this field equally challenged me each time.
During my Undergrad Course, I spent more time, in tech communities, workshops, Hackathons and Conferences than in my regular classes. Each experience here has always offered me a lot to learn and there has always been a lot more to explore. I was always intrigued by the rapid progress and the constant change in technology. The mere thought of being able to create something in this space, was a huge factor to choose this field.
2) Did you have a mentor in your early years? Did the mentor play a role in shaping your field of study?
It’s hard to name one person, there have been a lot of people at a lot of points who have given me the right kind of advice or their experiences have always have had a huge impact. Perhaps, someone who has been closest to a mentor has been my Sister. She has always been a huge influence on me. We have had similar interests and she has been my support System. My Father again has been a strong force and I can always rely on him for feedbacks for my work and all that I do.
I have been very fortunate to have got connected to people who have made their mark in the Tech Industry and a lot of their work and journeys have imparted some inspiring lessons. I mostly like to learn through my experiences, gather from what has worked for me, what hasn’t and most of all, work on things that give me happiness and satisfaction.
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?
Unfortunately, this is a scenario in most countries of the world. In case of our country, the social construct could be one of the reasons. Looking deeply into this, there is a large gap in men to women ratio, which in itself is a matter of concern. When we further analyze the numbers in STEM studies, it just starts thinning. While, we go further up the ladder, we find that the numbers are abysmal.
I had a bizarre incident where, in a hackathon (which was about 5 years ago and the number of men, where much more compared to the number of Women) I was asked by one of the men as to being a Women, why did I choose to pursue technology. This incident was quite shocking as to, since that was the first time did I experience the gender disparity in the field.
It can be very intimidating and challenging at the same time for women to take up this field, because of the existing disparity and exclusiveness in some areas of this field, however being very optimistic I must say that this scenario is changing for the better, though nothing rapid as of now, but we will get there one day.
Having worked with many Women in Tech communities, I see that there are lot more opportunities for people aspiring to grow big in this field, however, we certainly do lack awareness about these opportunities.With a better outreach and more organizations joining this cause we can certainly get definitely bridge the gender gap in this field. Another means would be to start early, if schools could recognize students who are passionate and who have the aptitude, they should start motivating and training more such students to pursue in this field.
4) You have organized a TedX event at your college. How was the experience?
I have had the opportunity to organize about 3 TEDx events in my previous college, Ramaiah Institute of Technology. It was one of the best experiences that I’ve had. It helped me hone my leadership skills along with curation skills. This got me to meet and interact with some extraordinary people, at the same time, learn so much about various things. Since, curation requires you to be well researched about various things and get the right kind of content out on talks. Though this was an arduous and a mammoth task, I’ve had a lot of fun doing this. We were fortunate enough to get some really good talks out of these three events.
My Association with TEDx will always be cherished, I got an opportunity to attend TED Women Conference couple of years ago in San Francisco, since I was one among 20 TEDxers all over the world, who was awarded the TEDx Change Scholarship in association with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.
Also, in order to help other TEDxers in South Indian region, along with a couple of TEDxers in Bangalore we did do a TEDx organizers regional workshop in Bangalore. Where we did talk about curation, sponsorship and creating a TEDx experience for the audience etc.
5) You are the Google WomenTechmakers lead. Could you explain more about this program and your role?
I was the lead for the Google Women Techmakers Bangalore Chapter. This is an incredible initiative by Google, Women Techmakers provides community, resources and visibility for Women in Technology. With each chapter we do regular study jams, workshops, codelabs sessions, Hackathons and Tech talks. It did come with great responsibility of building a community where you provide people with help and resources to learn the technology they want to. This Community is powered by the Google Developers group, which works hand in hand to provide opportunities and resources for those who are passionate about technology.
I find that Communities are a great place to start learning something new, it gives you the right kind of network with likeminded individuals where you can even collaborate and build something! I started off by regularly attending tech meetups of various communities while I was doing my Undergrad. Eventually, after gaining so much from these communities it was time to give back. Here, as a lead I got to do sessions at the same time invite people with the right kind of technical expertise to deliver code labs sessions and talks. I urge those who are interested in learning a new technology to lookup these communities and attend few sessions, I’m sure at the end of the day, you will have a lot to take back home.
6) Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I have always dreamed of doing something and overtime developing something, which I can call my own. One day I do want to start my own company, I’ve always strived for it. Building the right skills, gathering the knowledge. I guess overtime, I should be able to get there (Hopefully!).
7) Where can we find out about your work and programs?
My Linkedin page would be the best place, it would be updated soon though. I can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
8) Could you tell more about your role at GHCI?
I have been with GHCI from the last few years. I attended my first GHCI about 4 years back, as a scholar. It was an incredible experience and an ocean of opportunity. I wanted to stay connected with the community, hence joined as a committee member the next year with the hackathon track, the next year with Scholarship and Campus to Corporate track. I was one of the panel members for the panel discussions on communities last year and this year with the tech talks track. I must say, the Tech talks track is a new introduction to the Conference and there is something very exciting with this track for all the attendees this year.
Along with GHCI, this year I have also had the opportunity to work with GHC USA, as a Committee member for the Student Scholarship Committee.
To Sum it all up, I am so grateful for having experiences in various fields, be it technology and I have also had the opportunity to curate a Litfest, called the UNDER 25 Litfest in Bangalore couple of years ago, arts or the Creative field. I have always liked to try and explore various fields. I have always felt that there is so much more to explore, learn and do. So far, having an open mind to new experiences, changes, learning and meeting more people, most importantly never letting my enthusiasm down has been my key driving factors. I hope to take this journey ahead with the same kind of enthusiasm.