Tejal Kulkarni, "Encouraging girls into STEM fields"
Tejal Kulkarni is a senior at McNeil High School in Texas. After 12 years of being a proud Girl Scout and completing her bronze and silver awards, she decided to make a difference in the community through her Gold Award project. The Girl Scout Gold Award consists of 100 hours of service work dedicated to one project that ultimately leaves a legacy. With a passion for engineering, Tejal decided to focus her project around encouraging girls into STEM related fields. As Tejal prepares to join Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, she has personally experienced the lack of women in the field. In fact, she is the only female in her senior year engineering class. This gender imbalance motivated her to make a difference about this issue in the community.
For her project, Tejal held after-school programs at Pearson Ranch and Cedar Valley Middle Schools in which she focused on exciting young girls about STEM. For this, she organized fun design challenges and executive guest speakers. Tejal invited women engineering managers as guest speakers from Fortune-500 companies: Google, IBM, National Instruments, Dell and HPE. These guest speakers shared their professional experiences related to engineering and spoke about what drew them into the field. This aspect of the project was very important because seldom do students get to interact directly with professionals in the industry. The students were thrilled to talk with the guest speakers, asking plenty of questions. Overall Tejal’s project impacted around 50 girls and excited them about engineering. Pursuing this mission, Tejal plans to continue helping her community by encouraging and attracting more girls to engineering.
My IEEE WIE experience
1.How did you first get involved in IEEE Women in Engineering?
Tejal: While working on my Girl Scout Gold Award, which was centered around promoting girls to engineering, I came across IEEE WIE as an organization that focused on the same issues that matter to me.
2.Why did you decide to become an IEEE WIE member?
Tejal: I decided to join IEEE WIE because of all the opportunities that they offer. As a member, I have access to a network of women engineers with the same passions as me.
3.What do you wish other people knew about IEEE WIE?
Tejal: This organization focuses on promoting a community of women in engineering and dedicates its work towards the advocacy of successful women in order to inspire others.
4.What is it like to be an IEEE WIE Volunteer, and what do you enjoy about it?
Tejal: Volunteering will allow me to work with people that have shared passions and make a difference in my community.
5.Why do you feel it is important for women to enter into the field of engineering?
Tejal: There is a significant gender imbalance in the engineering field despite the success that women can bring to the field. It is important to begin promoting females into STEM related fields from a young age. In fact, I recently completed my Girl Scout Gold Award in which I focused on exciting girls about engineering and exposing them to the endless opportunities that they have. I invited women engineering managers as guest speakers from Fortune-500 companies: Google, IBM, National Instruments, Dell and HPE. This aspect of the project was very important because seldom do students get to interact directly with professionals in the industry. Overall, I was able to inspire about 50 middle school girls.