Kids have a way of making you question the things you see throughout your life. What seems normal to us, is something that sparks curiosity in their eyes.
Take for instance Google Engineer Komal Singh. Her daughter once proclaimed that only boys are engineers. Of course, this is far from the truth being that her own mother is a Program Manager in Engineering at the popular search engine company.
Her response was to make create something that would inspire tomorrow’s generation, including her two daughters to see the world a bit differently.
Motherhood Through My Eyes was able to chat with Komal about her book, Ara The Star Engineer. The book tackles a problem that’s well known in the tech industry — a need for diversity. Although it’s taken time for others to open their minds to the idea of a female engineer, Komal’s book has given her the confidence to strive for more in her own career.
“Even during the process of writing, I had doubts about putting my name on the book — thinking that as a first-time author, as a minority in tech, it would perhaps be in the book’s best interest to not have my name on it,” she shared in an interview for Motherhood Through My Eyes. “Then it dawned upon me that I had to live the message of the book.”
She continued: “If the book advocates for girls to display ‘courage’ (as an ingredient of the ‘amazing algorithm’), I had to model [that] courage. I had to have faith in my abilities and my capacity to tread the less beaten path and own that path. There was a lot of parallel between the message of the book and my own learning of that message in my personal and professional life.”
As for her thoughts on writing the book, Komal discussed how it opened her inhibitions, giving her the confidence to try out new and impactful things, such as side projects as well as projects in her own career.
One thing that stands out in Komal’s book is how she’s included characters from her workplace. Komal received positive feedback from her colleagues who loved the idea and wanted to support it as much as possible.
For her co-workers, there was a sense of uncertainty whether it would take off. Regardless of their busy work and travel schedules, the women believed in her project and “generously devoted time to interviewing with the book team, sharing personal stories and personal photo albums — helping polish the manuscript.”
Striving For More Change
Aside from her book, Komal is helping to spread the message for change in the tech industry through personal interactions with her own social circles.
“I always champion for unbiased playing fields for boys and girls, be it through casual conversations, voicing opinions more actively, or making people (and myself) aware of current issues,” Komal explained. “I volunteer on hackathons (as mentor or judge), and share my own career journey and tips with potential mentees and media outlets/blogs in case it helps motivate others.”
The idea of a young female engineer can be inspiring in a child’s eyes. For parents who are trying to show the importance of diversity in other fields, Komal suggests they come up with a “fun/abstract problem statement” and ask kids to “design a product” to solve that problem, individually.
“Once they present their answers or projects, analyze how their gender or cultural backgrounds influence the product design and how this may not be suitable for another person from a different background,” she added. “That is they couldn’t build a product ‘for the world’ because they didn’t have ‘representation’ of the world sample.”
Komal’s book is accompanied by a website with hands-on activity sheets, designed by real-life engineers. There are also pointers to further their learning experience and have immersive experiences (e.g. Google Expeditions and more coming) that families can enjoy with the book.
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