Strong Brains

at 11:43 PM
Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

I do not want to make a big deal of the memo. The memo does not define the company whose employee commented on women's ability to excel in tech industry. It is one individual's perspective at a point in time as this piece is mine.

But it did bring back memory of comments heard tens of years ago while growing up about 8,000 miles away from here. The things I heard defined me in a lot of ways. I wondered why could not people see my strong brain as easily as they could see my full bosom covered carefully with a shawl. My mother, who knew a thing or two about survival, advised me to develop fit-in techniques. But the fire in my belly would not let me.

I arrived in the U.S. 20 years ago: Became the first person ever from my family to work overseas. Relatives and colleagues finally went wow. They finally saw my strong brain. Since then, my brain has grown stronger in a country that worships merit regardless of the body -- black, white, brown, male, female -- from prime meridian back to prime meridian, and everything in between.

I have a good sense of what America really is about or so I thought until I moved to the Bay Area. I noticed for the first time the salad bowl instead of the melting pot, the clusters of ethnicities that seem intimidating to break into, sort of like sororities and fraternities. And I noticed the workplace. I was conscious, again, of my being a woman. I was told again that men define themselves by their jobs and women don't. I was told again - 20 years later and 8,000 miles apart -- to be submissive. I wanted to fly away, just as I had done 20 years ago. Except this time I had more luggage than the two suitcases I came with and perhaps stronger roots. So I just moved on. My strong mind could fight bias but not the negativity and the toxicity.

But my fire is alive. I am more ambitious than ever. My ambition now includes raising two Americans capable of seeing strong brains, not just their mother's but everybody - black, white, brown, male, female -- from prime meridian back to prime meridian and everything in between.


With a Perspective, I'm Shubha Sinha.

Shubha Sinha lives in the East Bay and is active in youth leadership development.