Speaker: Charmi Chokshi, ML Grad, MILA & University of Montreal
Why is International Women’s Day important to you? How are you celebrating?
Charmi Chokshi: If we look around, we will find numerous courageous and inspiring women. Women who have faced significant struggles and challenges on their journeys, but who never gave up out of all the odds, believed in themselves and their dreams. I would wish to read about all the courageous women and girls who encouraged us by demonstrating leadership and the choices they make in their day to day lives. But according to me, celebrating just the success stories is not enough. This Women's History Month. Let us celebrate, embrace and share not only the achievements, but also the dark days where we worked hard, we gave our best, but we could not succeed. Let's also share about the days when we felt the lowest of our existence and wanted to give up on everything because even those stories can be relatable to many, many others out there and can be their guiding forces.
2022's International Women's Day theme is #BreakTheBias. Can you speak to biases we can work to break in our communities and/or workplaces?
Charmi Chokshi: As a community if we work on three C's we can break the biases around us and achieve our wildest dreams. And those three C's are confidence, curiosity and coaching. To help minorities overcome the lack of self confidence and feeling of inferiority, we should work on inspiring the current and next generation from young age to pursue a career instead. Based on my experiences, I have figured out that sometimes girls have negative biases and negative attributes towards their agenda. Therefore we should encouraged and boost their spirits by sharing the success stories of people coming from historically excluded groups like Ada Lovelace the first ever computer programmer, Dorothy Vaughan, the first Black supervisor of NACA Sudha Murty, the first female employee of Telco and many, many more. Curiosity, a curious mind is literally all it takes to do everything that you want to do and to be everything that you have ever wished to be. Remember that the best investment which you can ever make is an upscaling yourself. Never let the child inside you ever die, who wanted an answer of every single question out there. Try to learn something new every now and then and do not stick to your older version. Today, let's take a pledge to at least coach one young girl around us. That girl can be your sister, your friend, your colleague or a community member. Have informal weekly or monthly calls with them and let them have the faith that there is someone in their life whom they can reach out in their harsh times because literally one good mentor is all it takes to change someone's lives. Together we can.
What advice would you give to the next generation of women as they begin their careers?
Charmi Chokshi: To all the young women in Tech out there, today I would like to tell you that there will be times in your career when you will have to prove yourself, when your actions will be questioned. It's a fact that there exists a significant gap in the representation of women and historically excluding people in tech ecosystem. Though illegal, discrimination still exist and there isn't much which you can do about that. But what you can instead focus on is your own, our own unconscious biases that reinforces the perception that we do not fit into the male dominated fields. That bias, that fear, that self doubt and the imposter syndrome has to be broken. And no one is, but you and only you can do that. So what are you waiting for? Jump outside of your comfort zone, raise your voices for yourself, push your boundaries, challenge the status quo and be on unstoppable. Also, in that quest of being the best version of yourself, always try to be humble, respectful, and helpful to others.