Jun 23, 2021
by Amruta Shankar, Director of Data and Analytics, Synamedia
Today is International Women in Engineering Day – an international awareness campaign celebrating the work and achievements of female engineers. It is a day when we celebrate women in the minority, like myself. At Synamedia, we pride ourselves on equity and inclusion, so I wanted to take this opportunity to write a blog about my perspective on this celebratory day. I was curious and inspired – characteristics that Synamedia encourages from all of our team.
On a global scale, women account for less than a third of workers in scientific research and development. In the UK, the number of female engineering and technology graduates has remained extremely low at only 15% from 2015 to 2018. Women make up almost half of the workforce in the U.S. but are still greatly underrepresented in the STEM workforce with only 27% of workers being female in 2019.
For girls and young women considering an education or career-path in STEM, these statistics can sound a bit daunting. Therefore, it is extremely important that we highlight and celebrate the women in this field who are challenging the status quo and paving the way for future generations of engineers.
I believe that it is important for all of us in STEM to use this time to celebrate female engineers, as so many of us grew up with a limited amount of female role models in this field. It is much easier to imagine yourself excelling in a career if you have someone to look up to and aspire to be like.
I have always been incredibly fascinated by the way things work. From an early age, I was innately curious and tried to find solutions that would make every day – somewhat mundane – activities more efficient and require less physical effort on my part. For example, I envisioned a heat sensor for saucepans that would turn off the kitchen stove automatically. Or before I even knew what it was, I dreamt of a moving walkway—or a ‘walkalator’ as I liked to call it—that allowed me to read while walking to school without worrying about bumping into things.
Eventually, when I was in my late teens, I decided to take on one of the projects that I had been dreaming about. In India traffic signals work on fixed times, so they do not account for the amount of traffic or rush hours. This created needless congestion and a lot of unnecessary inefficiencies on the roads. Being a natural problem-solver, I collaborated with a fellow female engineering classmate and together we designed an IR based traffic controller which managed the signals based on traffic flow hence making traffic flow smoother and more efficient.
Today, as the Director of Data and Analytics at Synamedia, I want to use this platform to inspire the countless young women daunted by math and science. There is so much more to engineering – it is really about this natural curiosity that I saw in myself growing up and which still guides me. The aptitude and passion for solving problems is the single and most important thing you need to be an engineer.
The theme for this year’s International Women in Engineering Day is Engineering Heroes. This theme really made me sit down and reflect on who I look up to in the engineering field. While history offers plenty of examples of engineering heroes, I have chosen two role models I have worked closely with who shape my approach to problem solving to this day. Nigel Smith, who was my SVP and CMO at NDS, embodies the spirit and enterprise of engineering in every aspect of his life; from programming and creating a home automation system to understanding the best tools that would allow his teams to perform better. Nigel really understands how engineering can be all encompassing and when viewed through the lens of simplifying the harder, mundane tasks (like I did during my childhood), it can be empowering in its liberation.
Susie Buckridge, who is the CEO at YouView, a TV platform based in the UK is another engineering hero to me. Alongside curiosity and passion, she brings a balance of consumer empathy with business outcomes to engineering problems. Engineers love to solve problems. But nudging us to solve the right problems that help the consumers of TV platforms, while ensuring that the solutions are also aligned to successful business outcomes, is a balancing act that Susie carries out admirably.
There are times when there will not be role models around who you can mirror yourself in. When recruiting for an engineering role, I actively try to encourage a balance of CVs across all diversity metrics. Women bring a perspective and diverse way of thinking that should be valued. I am incredibly lucky to have followed my curiosity and my interest in engineering and have ended up at Synamedia. A place where I am awarded for my work and abilities, and where my gender is never held against me. Synamedia’s culture is that of a level playing field that appreciates ideas over identity.
And on today’s day of celebrating women engineers, I’m proud to say I’ve found an organization that celebrates us, equally, every day.
Learn more about the career opportunities available for all at Synamedia
About the Author
Amruta joined Synamedia in April 2020 to lead the company’s data and analytics initiatives, bringing data-driven insights to customers.
Amruta has 15 years’ experience in delivering video solutions, most recently as head of data and analytics at YouView. Prior to this she was product manager at Voxbone where she was responsible for all customer-facing solutions and APIs.
Amruta started her career as a software developer at NDS and then spent five years at Cisco where she worked for the office of the Chief Strategy Officer defining the next-generation video strategy. At that time, Amruta was responsible for its big data and analytics offering. Then, as business lead for Cisco’s API task force for its video business unit, she handled all aspects of API offerings – from building a nascent developer community with content-centric app developers to working with the technical teams to deploy a robust TV API platform.
Amruta holds an MBA from London Business School.