Speaker: Vijeta Pai, Engagement Manager, Google Cloud PSO, Quantiphi
Why is Women’s History Month important to you? How are you celebrating?
Vijeta Pai: I want to start this answer off by a short haiku that I wrote last year on Women's Day: Sunsets, crimson hills, Ocean waves break the barriers. Footprints on the sand. The Women's History Month signifies these footprints on the sand for me. Let me narrate a quick anecdote here. When I was five, my grandmother handed me over a pen and said that was my future. I didn't understand what she meant back then. But now I do. A strong woman who was married off at a very tender age. She wanted me to write my own future. I am where I am today because of her, my mother and various other strong women in my life who have carved the path with their sacrifices and love. It is really important to acknowledge the footprints of so many women who have helped us get to where we are today. Our mothers, grandmothers, teachers, friends, relatives and so many more women who have fought for the rights we enjoy today. I have a three year old daughter and want her to see these footprints while she's walking the path of life. She should always remember that every luxury she enjoys today. Whether it's reading a book or listening to music was born out of the struggles of many women before her. She should feel that connection and sense of solidarity. I'm celebrating this month by writing notes of appreciation to each woman in my life who has helped me come to where I am today and I want to inculcate this practice of gratitude in my daughter as well.
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?
Vijeta Pai: A woman plays various roles in her life, whether it's that of a friend, a leader, a co-worker, a mother, a sister, a daughter or a mentor. There are several biases surrounding us, for example, our ability to be productive as a working parent, our ability to look after our family while working or even making our mark felt in a male dominated industry. Breaking the bias doesn't involve doing anything extraordinary, but it starts with acknowledging these biases. That's the first step I want to promote, followed by creating a system of solidarity where we, as women need to lift each other up and shatter these biases. It doesn't matter what choices we make in life, but we need to take the steps to promote a culture of diversity, solidarity, empathy at our workplace and society.
What advice would you give to the next generation of women as they begin their careers?
Vijeta Pai: Before answering this question, let me narrate a very personal incident. I had to go on a brief career break following the birth of my daughter. And got the chance to start my second innings at Quantiphi a premier Google Cloud partner. On my first day back at work, I was completely consumed by self doubt leading to imposter syndrome amidst so many bright and experienced mindset work. This is completely natural for women, no matter which phase of life they're in. I just want to let the future generation know here that there are various moments in life when you feel bogged down by self doubt whether it's starting a new job, getting into a new relationship or having a new baby. It's really easy for imposter syndrome to creep in during such moments. Always remember you may not be perfect but you are in this position because you are the best person to fulfill this responsibility at hand. Remember to look at any bias you may have internalized, build a support system for yourself and lead the change to foster a more inclusive community. You may just be a drop of water in the ocean. But remember an ocean is just a piece of barren land without these drops of water. Look at the footprints in the sand and the support you have in life and stand firm to make your mark and carve your own footprint. Break the barriers and feel empowered. Thank you.