Advice for Women Interested in STEM
Career Development Deepali Garg, a senior data scientist at Avast, says that the gender imbalance in technology is changing — but not fast enough.
What has your experience been like working in AI?
Exhilarating! It’s an active field, with new research and findings every day — and still more to discover.
Why should women pursue a career in this area?
Stephen Hawking said super-intelligent AI will be very good at accomplishing its goals, but there will be trouble if its goals don't align with ours. If AI models are consciously or unconsciously biased, then those biases will be built into the systems that we create. It is critical for women to be a part of the AI community and to drive the progress.
What are some of the challenges of being a woman in tech?
I have been in countless meetings and on numerous teams where I was the only woman. Gender imbalance creates a culture where women simply don't “fit in” – from lunchroom banter to team camaraderie. But most damaging are the unconscious biases that question women's abilities and that creep into casual interactions and comments. In this field, women have to speak up and advocate for themselves.
Is the industry attracting and retaining more women in this field?
I am heartened by companies like Avast that are invested in attracting and retaining women in technology. Half the population is left untapped when we don't include women. To build systems, inclusion is imperative.
Who inspires you?
Women like Grace Hopper and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I salute Reshma Saujani's work in founding Girls Who Code. I admire Indira Nooyi's grit that earned her the CEO title at PepsiCo.
Do you think mentorship for women in tech is valuable?
Absolutely! I have benefitted enormously from mentors and mentees. Mentorship provides women space to ideate who they can be — to reinforce that they can overcome hurdles and come out shining on the other side.
What advice would you offer to young women?
This industry might not be the easiest path, but you can overcome hurdles. Women like me are waiting for you and we’d be honored to serve as your mentor. STEM careers need you – your perspective, knowledge and expertise.