Chat with Shwetha Kashyap: How motherhood and programming are similar

Positive people are a pleasure to deal with. Their demeanor and approach to is infectious! It is the same positivity that helps them advance in their careers. In many ways, this is the story of Shwetha Kashyap, software engineer at Harman Connected Services.

We caught up with Shwetha to know more about her journey as a techie, and more importantly, her journey as a woman in tech.

Coding and motherhood

Like good old school techies, Shwetha her career with assembly-language coding.

"Coding started just before college, however, those trials never made me understand what my school teachers meant when they said “Computers understand zeros and ones” My first time with assembly-language coding and manually translating code into machine instructions during college opened up the whole digital world for me. This kindled my interest in coding."

It was particularly endearing to see her equate coding with motherhood. When asked why she loves coding, she said, "Coding is as good as teaching a child (in our case, a computer) what, when, and how to do something. And the joy of watching your "baby" perform tasks as instructed and perform it quickly is what keeps me motivated."

What she enjoys the most is solving tough problems. When asked about her most satisfying moment as a programmer, she said, "They say “To bug is human, to debug is divine!” To debug a coding problem is the best way to experience adventures. My most satisfying moments are when I have debugged those "non-recreatable" in-house crash issues with no clear call stack information and absolutely no takers for the bug."

We cannot agree more.

Being a woman in tech 

Shwetha is enthusiastic about the state of women in tech in India. She says, "IT in India is definitely warming up to women. There is a lot less gender prejudice than there was earlier. Having said that, there is much more to go.  To date, I hear about recruiters being skeptical about hiring women who are married because they can’t work late! The number of women in coding is still very less and there are very few examples at the top of the ladder to look up to.  But, I am sure this will change soon."

While most women might be apprehensive about being a part of the minority group, Shwetha doesn't mind it. She says, "So, far I’ve loved being the only woman among the male developers. You are offered seats in meeting rooms and drops when you work late. That’s not such a bad thing!"

On a more serious note, she has some interesting insight into why there are so few women in technology. She says, "Development has always been portrayed as a job that requires you to burn the midnight oil. This is especially threatening for married women, who are scared that their work-life balance will be lost if they ever step into coding.

The more our industry works towards respecting work-life balance of its workers, the more women they will see in coding. Facilities like “Work from home for mothers”  are still considered impossible-to-give facilities, which is very discouraging for those women who want to pursue a career in programming. The lack of support from the industry is one of the key factors for the lack of women in tech."

The solution to this, according to her, is simple—treat coding like any other job. She says, "Society has now convinced itself that IT jobs are a slaughter house. I’ve been asked  “Why don’t you take up a teaching job, so that your timings are fixed and there is less pressure? “ However, these things don’t matter. In today's world, no job is a cakewalk. Teachers too have the similar pressures of meeting the deadlines. Once you make your family aware of this, they won’t worry anymore. Coding is like any other job."

On ambitions and growth

Her ambitions are interesting. She says, "My dad learnt 2 types of Vedas just for hobby. I wondered, how many ways of praising God does one have to learn?  Nowadays I feel crippled not knowing many languages in which I can communicate with my computer. I want to learn as many languages as I possibly can to talk to my computer differently each time. That’s probably what went through my dad’s mind as well!"

In the future, Shwetha aims to become a technical architect. "10 years from now, I see myself working for groups that are trying to promote Kannada in the Information Technology field," she concluded.

We wish Shwetha all the best in her future endeavors.

About the Author

Raghu Mohan
Raghu is an engineering grad handles Marketing at HackerEarth. Prior to this, he was an editor at YourStory.com. When he’s not working, you can find him at the nearest music shop having a jam session.
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