Humans of IEEE WIE highlights a dedicated WIE volunteer who is well known for his/her notable contribution to IEEE WIE.

IEEE WIE: Please give us a brief introduction about yourself and your family.
I am Dr.Ramalatha Marimuthu, Director of iExplore Foundation for Sustainable Development. I was born in a small town in the south of Tamilnadu to a very orthodox family of a traditional community but my parents were very broad-minded. They allowed me education and even a career in engineering. I have worked as an educator for nearly 40 years and retired happily to step onto the next phase of my life – an entrepreneur. I am married to a Geologist for 35 years and I have two daughters. One is a housewife and the other is an entrepreneur happily married to her business partner. I have a grandson of eight years.

IEEE WIE: What is your specific area of STEM?
Electronics and Communication Engineering was the basic degree but I have diversified into applications of data mining, machine learning, and the Internet of Things. I work on social issues and develop hardware or software solutions for the same.

IEEE WIE: Please tell us something interesting about your life that may be why you chose the STEM field.
I was all set to pursue a BSc in Physics because I love Physics. But my father was adamant that I should pursue a medical degree which I hated. Finally, my brother–in–law, a chemical engineer himself, provided a solution. He suggested I pursue engineering, which satisfied my father that I would be pursuing a professional degree and here I am.

IEEE WIE: As an empowered woman, please share how you plan to empower other women. How do you encourage them to take leadership positions?
Empowerment does not come from outside. It has to come from the inside. I learnt it through a long and hard life. That is the reason, I encourage all my fellow men and women to empower themselves along with my students. Thoughts are very powerful and they can make you or break you. I always say “Do not let the environment shape you; You create the environment according to how you plan your future YOU”. It is very important that while doing that, we also should not forget our responsibilities. So, when you create an environment you are happy about and you take the responsible roles that you can handle, what does that make you, if not a leader?

IEEE WIE: How do you think diversity and inclusion help in boosting creativity and better problem-solving strategies?
Diversity and Inclusion has always been a hot topic. Only the communities, situations and time are different. Long throughout the history, we have heard and cheered about women fighting for their rights and achieving them slowly. We have also heard underserved communities being suppressed and leaders fighting to liberate them and succeeding. All these inclusions into the diverse world of humanity have brought development not only to that community but for the whole world. T

IEEE WIE: In your opinion, how can everyone ensure that technological advancements are used for the betterment of humanity?
Ethics and Empathy should be the core value of every human being. When we develop technology, while it is to help someone, we also should be conscious of its possible misuse and risks associated with it. Thorough testing can help but not 100%. Every coin has two sides, as does technology. It is the choice of the user to use it either positively or negatively.

IEEE WIE: What is one piece of advice you can give to young professionals who are IEEE WIE members?
You always have a choice. Use that wisely.

IEEE WIE: How do you challenge the status quo or how do you identify problems in your field and propose solutions to bring positive changes?
Being alert to the nuances of change in the environment is a crucial point to be followed if we want to be successful. Be brave and talk but make sure you take the effort to communicate your point of view. Being quiet and good does not always work. When you need changes, you need to speak up.

IEEE WIE:  An empathetic leader helps promote a better work environment. Would you agree?
Yes. Empathy is core of humanity and as a leader, the success of our mission depends on our listening to and understanding point of view. We also may learn a thing or two from others and it will improve the task at hand leading to overall success and better morale.