International Day of Women and Girls in Science is this Thursday, February 11th. It’s a celebration of the vital role that women play in advancing science and technology. Girls not only rock—they code, engineer, and discover. The theme for 2021 is very timely and critical to the global pandemic, “Women scientists are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.”
At TransLoc, we’re fortunate to have talented female STEM professionals who are pushing our products to surpass the standards of modern technology. Each one has their own unique story to tell about how they’ve pursued and persisted in STEM—satiating their scientific curiosity, smashing stereotypes, and becoming experts in their traditionally male-dominated fields.
Here are two inspiring stories featuring our own Soujanya Cherukuri, manager of Engineering, and Emma Smith, software engineer.
Tell us about a person or moment that influenced your decision to pursue a career in STEM?
Soujanya Cherukuri: Definitely my family. My dad, who taught me math and science throughout my childhood. He showed me the fun in fixing my own bike or a broken toy. I now look at anything broken as an opportunity to learn how it works. My aunt, a doctor who saves lives every day. And my uncle, a scientist who ran a semiconductor technology company that worked on defense projects for the country.
Emma Smith: When I was younger I had my hearing checked. During the appointment I peaked at a screen and saw the lady programming hearing aids. She noticed my interest, indicated she was an audiologist, and explained how everything worked, as well as the fact that hearing aids are customized for each individual. This immediately piqued my interest in creating hearing aid software. At that moment it became my dream job.
What does it mean to you to be a professional woman in STEM?
SC: I take pride in solving real time problems that make someone's life better.
ES: I am beyond grateful for the women that paved the way in STEM focused careers. Their leadership encouraged me to feel comfortable in this environment. To be honest, a majority of the time I forget that I am in a predominantly male field. As a professional in the field of STEM, I enjoy and value pursuing goals by sharing my perspective with peers. This communication invites collaboration from which all can benefit.
In your opinion, how can STEM fields attract more women to its industries?
SC: By educating women about the wide range of career opportunities in STEM. We also need to change the perspective that pursuing a degree in the STEM field is hard. If you are a logical thinker who can connect the dots and understand a problem, you are ready to start your career in a STEM field.
ES: My first encounter with coding was modifying my Neopet’s page at a young age. I was intrigued. Because of this, I believe that exposure to STEM at an early age is crucial. With this approach it makes it more intuitive at a later age. Encouragement from mentors is very important. Their support helps combat the naysayers of women in STEM.
What would you say to a young girl to get her excited about exploring STEM?
SC: It is a lot of fun to build stuff and it's very gratifying when others benefit out of what you built. Being a mother of two girls, I'm constantly trying to teach them to observe and absorb how things work. We solve problems everyday, so why not make that your career? This will help you become independent and financially able to buy all that branded stuff you want!
ES: I would start with some simple thought-provoking questions to identify their interests. For example, have you ever looked up at the sky? Why is it blue? Have you ever looked closely at a diamond? How is it made? Have you ever wondered what happens to that piece of gum when you swallow it? While lighthearted, these questions may draw interest in a topic. Hopefully, this inspires further curiosity.
Are you interested in making the jump to a career in STEM? Read “Four Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Software Engineer.”
We’re hiring! Check out TransLoc’s open engineering positions here. We look forward to hearing from you!