A young woman with dark hair smirking at the camera against a red background.
Niharika Nayak, a senior QA analyst at eShopWorld. Image: eShopWorld

We need to better highlight the contribution made by women in STEM

18 Sep 2018

Highlighting the achievements of women in STEM could help motivate more to join the industry, according to eShopWorld’s Niharika Nayak.

STEM has long suffered from a lack of diversity. The face of the industry has stereotypically been ‘male and pale’. This perpetuates the idea that only a certain kind of person can forge a career in the sectors of science, technology, engineering and maths. Luckily, the sectors are getting closer to achieving more gender parity and ethnic diversity.

We spoke to Niharika Nayak, a senior QA analyst at eShopWorld, about the best ways to motivate aspiring women to join STEM.

What drew you to this career area?

Right from the beginning, I was truly fascinated by IT because of its far-reaching implications and its applications. Its ubiquitous influence, right from connecting people from one end to the other to bring diversified amenities to one’s doorstep, drew me towards it.

What’s the best thing about working in this area?

It has provided me opportunities to progress and given me a balance between creativity and logical problem-solving. It has given me the perfect launch pad to learn and develop constantly by facing new and exciting challenges at every step.

What’s the most exciting development you’ve witnessed in your sector since you started working in it?

Automation and AI have become the new poster child for everything enthralling in the IT sector. Faster shipping and better delivery logistics, and greater integration of AI and machine learning are the most exciting developments that I have witnessed in my sector since I have started working in it.

What aspect of your job did you struggle/have you struggled to get to grips with?

The tech industry is all about changes, and change that leads to improvement. It’s a ceaseless evolution. As our company is continuously streamlining its processes for faster and efficient delivery for its clients, it was challenging for me to cope as well as keep myself updated with the new skills.

What’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to face in your career, and how did you overcome it?

Recently, we moved from traditional scrum to new continuous integration practice. This shift demands more focus and better understanding of what is to be delivered. Initially, I couldn’t grasp the chain of events in the whole process but, with the help of my manager and teammates, I now understand the new way.

If you had the power to change anything within the STEM sector, what would that be?

I would seek to bring better gender parity in the industry. Since STEM is conventionally viewed as a male-dominated sector, the contribution made by the women should be highlighted. This would in turn motivate aspiring women to join STEM and forge their own success story.

Which of your personality traits makes you best suited to your job and this sector?

Determination, curiosity, focus and adaptability are my strongest personality traits. In this ever-changing world of IT, these traits have always helped me to steer through the problems laid across my path.

Is there something in your personal life that helps you/has helped you in your job?

Moving to Ireland was a significant paradigm shift in my life; a different culture, a different perspective to life. It didn’t inhibit me from my primary focus of getting a job I liked. In the beginning, I dedicated my time to learning the new culture and updated my knowledge in my stream. This urge for learning has not only helped me to build a great bond with my colleagues but has also enabled me to keep myself updated with all the changes going around me.

How do you make connections with others in the STEM community?

Social media has been a great catalyst in bringing STEM people together. It has also helped me connect with people outside my office with similar interests.

Has mentorship or coaching been important in your career?

Yes. Since the beginning of my career, I have been guided by a number of people and without their help, it would not have been possible to be where I am here today. And, of course, not to forget my pillars of my life: my husband and my family.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in your area?

Go get it! In this ever-expanding IT world, every person can find a suitable place to explore and hone their talent if they have the right attitude.

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