We have observed a peculiar trend among girls who are studying engineering in Kerala
- They don’t seem interested in travelling abroad
- They are not eager to learn from some of the best technology innovators and scientist in the world.
-They seem indifferent to the concept of scholarships and research grants.
Since last year, we have reached out to girls in many colleges through newsletters, seminars or workshops and encouraged them to participate in some of the most prestigious scholarship programs in the world. We offered help, free of cost, to any girl in India who wished to apply for The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship or the BlackBerry Scholars Program. Both are designed to encourage participation of women in technology by giving them research grants, foreign exposure and mentorship. Despite our offer to literally handhold the applicants through the entire process, nobody reached out to us.
None. Zero. Zilch. Not a soul.
This is 2013 and we are living in Asia’s third largest economy, but even now we do not see much spark or ambition in most of our women engineers. There is no desire to create path-breaking technology, to question stereotypes or the courage to say no to a mundane job.
Technology is a male-dominated field all over the world, but in India even if the girl is interested she does not find the courage or support to follow her dreams.
Android workshop for girls at Startup Village
Recently, we invited some students from a college in Wayanad to visit the Startup village campus in Kochi. We specifically asked the college to send as many girls as possible. We noticed that during our workshop, the boys were enthusiastic and sat in the front. The girls, while attentive, remained quiet.
During my interaction with the girls (which required a lot of coaxing and patience because the girls took shyness to a new level), we realised that they don’t have any support from the society or the university to pursue innovation and entrepreneurship. Many of them live with parents who forbid them from travelling to even nearby cities such as Bangalore or Chennai for competitions or workshops. They have been instructed by families to head home before dusk, which means most Hackathons are out of bounds. Many were not even allowed to use the Internet for a long time because that would create an impression that they are chatting with a boy and dating is still frowned upon in Kerala’s conservative society.
Their primary aim in college is to get a job nearby and marry by the time they are 22 or 23. They have been trained to not even consider discovering or following their passion.
At Startup Village, we don’t want them to stifle their creativity anymore. We want to see more women start their own companies. The world needs more girls who can create and market fantastic technology products, simply because it is one of the best ways to cater to the growing number of women consumers.
To build this community, we need YOUR help. To begin with, you can help us by just reaching out to us.
1) If you are student or a teacher, help us understand why girls are not keen on innovating.
2) What are some of the steps we can take at Startup Village to nurture women entrepreneurs. We already host many free workshops exclusively for girl students. What else should we do in the next few months?
3) We invite many famous businesswomen to our campus. Is there someone you would like to meet?
You can either leave your tips in the comments section below or you can email me at email@example.com.