Tell us about yourself, your team and your role.
My name is Shivangi. I work as an SDE 2 with the Innovation Hub at grofers. My work usually revolves around product and design thinking, engineering, user research, experimentation and innovation. Yes, you heard that right; although I am an engineer by my role, I do many things apart from engineering. It might sound unconventional but my philosophy is that there is no point in building a product that does not solve a real-world problem. I like to think of myself as a problem solver; engineering is just one of the roles in my repertoire to solve problems.
Share your journey as a woman in tech.
My engineering journey began as early as 6th standard in school, where HTML and CPP were the first languages I learnt to code. By the time I finished college, I had explored C, CPP, Java, PHP, Python and JS. Too many languages? Over time, I learnt that languages are just tools. If you know one, you can learn others quickly.
Back in 2015, I joined college with hopes of learning the fundamentals of computers and programming. I soon realized many people would not take me seriously. It felt really disheartening at first, but then I decided to keep going ahead. Besides my regular course work, I participated in hackathons, explored various techs, worked on research projects, and organized fests, conferences, and meetups.
During my internship, I got placed in grofers as a part of my college placement drive. It was interesting to see how some of my professors and classmates were shocked to hear this news. Some would even joke how “girls have it easy because all companies want to improve their gender ratio.”
Fast forward to June 2019, I joined as an SDE with the Warehouse Team with typical rookie jitters and impostor syndrome. I was the sole female dev in my team when I first joined, but slowly over time, more female devs joined the squad.
I later moved to a team that started out as an experiment for product discovery called Innovation Hub. We learnt about grofers as a business, supply chain, product, and design thinking in the initial days. It broadened my perspective on problems: the best thing I learnt was paying attention to the people around me and listening, listening intently.
Eventually, with all these skill sets, I started helping out with planning and organizing internal meetups, hiring drives and hackathons with the help of my peers and slowly became a person who would plan, manage and roadmap things for many initiatives.
Even though I have seen people who will pull me down, I was also fortunate enough to find people who would tell me where I could improve and nudge me in the correct direction. They created a space to voice my opinions without fear of judgment and this nurtured my leadership skills.
Talk about the most important learnings from this journey.
Yes, skills matter, but the people and the environment they create for you matter more. Skills can be learnt, but in the end, it’s the people factor that can make you grow or fall.
Spend time finding the kind of people who help you grow.
Talk about the constraints you face as a woman engineer.
Yes, we tend to have a hard time. But even before others give us a hard time, why put constraints on ourselves? Why should we make compromises? Why call ourselves women engineers and not just engineers? What does our gender have to do with our work? We might think it sounds empowering, but it also makes us an outsider. We are not outsiders; we exist here because we deserve it. This is sadly a paradox, where we want to help more women grow in STEM but unintentionally make them feel like outsiders. So, you better put some faith in yourself and your skills, forge bonds with people and just move towards your goals and ambitions.
PS: I do see the irony here, given what the blog is supposed to feature, but then life is full of contradictions and that’s the beauty of it. Things are never truly black and white; there is a vast spectrum of colours, so it’s okay.
3 things that helped you grow in tech.
- Besides hard work, asking for feedback and striving for continuous improvement
- Not fearing — failure or being wrong
- Being retrospective is what adds the x-factor to your growth
One message to all women in tech.
I would like to quote Tony Robbins here —
“Expect change. Analyze the landscape. Take the opportunities. Stop being the chess piece; become the player. It’s your move.”
Talk about your inspiration/role models.
I don’t have a singular role model or inspiration. I believe in taking inspiration from various people, no matter which background they are from. I think we all can learn something from everyone. I have a long list of people I admire and I learn a lot from them daily. They include my family, friends, colleagues, teachers and fellow acquaintances along with known people. Apart from this, I have added a few famous personalities I admire in the word cloud below –
A book/movie reccomendation on gender parity.
I think gender parity is overrated; it is necessary but not sufficient. We need to solve the root of the problem — our biases and prejudices.
To solve this, we need to be more open-minded and inclusive. I’d suggest reading about how women found their way to get the most basic of their rights. A good example is how we got the right to vote and the problems that we faced. A book that I personally resonate with is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, which taught me not to judge a book by its cover. Very easy to say, very hard to do. Lastly, I would like to leave you with thoughts of Susan B Anthony,
“Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women! There is so much yet to be done.”