From An Average Student To The Secretary Of An R&D Society, This Is My Story
I am an Electronics Engineer. I never deliberately thought of going into innovation but yes, I wanted to do something innovative with my career. I was always interested in joining core electronics because I like to create things, and the challenges that come with creating things, thrill me.
I come from a middle-class family and like any other girl, I was expected to complete my education with good numbers, get a job (optional) and get married.
But I have never done what everybody else wanted me to do. I have always been an average student and hence, my family decided that I should get married, giving me the ‘luxury’ to choose what I want to do, after marriage.
But I stood my ground, declined the marriage proposals that came my way and focused only on my goal - of being innovative and contributing to the world. Refusing to get married made the society believe that there is something wrong with me, of course.
Not staying out till late in the night, behaving in a ‘ladylike’ manner, not talking to boys - aren’t these what every girl is expected to follow?
I was being judged on these grounds too. I lost my confidence and went into depression.
I Found Purpose In Social Work
I took up charitable activities because it helped me align with my goal of giving back to the world. I was associated with Teach India by Times of India where I taught some children from a slum area. Later, I Co-Founded P.R.A.Y.A.A.S group, which actively participates in social activities.
My involvement in social activities and my goal soon pulled me out of depression. I realised, the only important thing in any situation is believing in yourself, following your heart and not getting trapped in prejudices.
A Career In Core Technology
After my engineering, while searching for jobs, I landed up at Embedded Creations, which is into electronic product development and industrial automation. I started working there as an intern. Seeing my dedication and capabilities, they soon offered me to work with them as a part of the company. And within a span of a year from there, they asked me to #TakeCharge of one of their centers completely, as the center manager.
I took over the responsibility with excitement and within the next few months, we started Jigyasa Research and Development Society, where I resumed the role of the society’s Secretary. JRC is involved in innovation and product development. We are one of the very few research centers with diversified experience of developing innovative products for different agencies, in both government and private sectors. JRC encourages research activities and product development, which are useful and benefit the society at large.
Through JRC, I was able to get two copyrights registered in my name for the projects, "Robotic Jaw" and "I3NOC Socket Design".
I have given interviews on radio channels, have been quoted in newspapers, have worked with the DCP of Nagpur Police, with government departments, industrialists, renowned doctors, pharmacists, educationists and people from many fields - all because of one dream to be different.
Neha Kawadkar in an interview on Radio Mirchi, Nagpur.
Instead of following the crowd, I chose my own path. As the saying goes, fortune favours the brave, and so it did for me. I am glad to have found an opportunity in the field I love, have many things to explore and bigger dreams to accomplish.
Proving My Potential
Entering a core field and being the secretary of an R&D Society is not an easy job, especially as a woman. The first challenge is that people don’t trust your technical skills. The generic opinion is that a woman is better for management and supportive tasks. You have to prove your skills as a technologist at every level.
Another issue is bridging the gender gap - some organisations are just not prepared to include women! When I joined the office, there were only male employees and there was no separate washroom for women! Ultimately, I had to share the men’s loo.
As a woman, you are practically judged at every point in your life. But I am glad to have worked under a good boss with a great team who saw the potential in me and encouraged me to be an entrepreneur.
Follow Your Dreams
Focusing on your work, your goal and what you love to do should be of utmost importance to you, not caring about societal norms. I have always focused on what I love to do, what new I can learn and how I can improve myself. This focus and belief in myself has helped me overcome challenges in my life.
I believe I have made a contribution in inspiring other women to follow your heart and not get bullied by societal pressure. Live your own life on your terms. You have got what it takes to be a SHERO. Be what you want to be, not what others want to see.
A #WomanInTech, Neha Kawadkar is a dedicated and focused technologist. She is involved in innovative product development and has diversified experience in developing innovative products for different agencies in both government and private sector. She has 2 copyrights registered in her name.
Are you a #WomanInTech? Do you have a story to share with us? Let us know in the comments below.