Today, the world celebrates International Day for Women and Girls in Science, a day to recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
At Tata Chemicals Limited Innovation Center in Pune, India, women are contributing significantly to the fields of molecular biology, microbiology, and advanced materials science. With years of experience and numerous peer-reviewed articles to their names, these women are inspiring the next generation of young girls and women to pursue careers in STEM.
Dr. Deepika Tiwari, an Associate Scientist in Sustainable and Functional Ingredients, has experience in molecular biology and microbiology and has worked on the biosynthesis of commercially important products and scientific substantiation of various ingredients from a health perspective. When asked about balancing her professional and personal life, Dr. Tiwari said, "It's a difficult one, however, it is really manageable. Effective time management and multi-tasking is the mantra."
Microsoft and the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) have launched a programme called CyberShikshaa which has so far trained 1,100 women in AI/ML for cybersecurity and enabled certifications, and has employed over 800 women through various training batches.
With aspirations to skill 45,000 women and provide employment opportunities for 10,000 learners in the next three years, CyberShikshaa has been a turning point for many, including Manjusha M, a student from Kannur who now works as a cybersecurity associate at ACPL Systems.
In another inspiring story, Mrinal Ganjale, a teacher from Maharashtra, used Microsoft Teams to take online classes during the pandemic and prevent students from dropping out. Her innovative approach not only helped her students continue their education, but also resulted in an increase in student enrollment. Mrinal has received the National ICT Award from the Ministry of Education, Government of India.
Hemalekha Balu, a Senior Manager- Projects & Strategy at Tata Chemicals, has 16 years of experience in the field of production, engineering, and projects. She is also a process safety specialist and conducts seminars in the field of process safety. When asked about how she balances her professional and personal life, she said, "Frequent travelling is part of my job profile, hence maintaining a work-life balance is required. I plan my work in advance and club my work together while travelling."
Ashvini Angal, a Research Executive in Sustainable and Functional Ingredients, has more than 12 years of experience in industrial and customer-driven projects in the field of advanced material sciences and nutritional science. When asked about what inspires her as a woman in science, she said, "Science has always been the driving force behind development. Curiosity and interest have been the driving factors that push me to do more and provide my best."