IWD 2022: Women CAN work in Tech #BreaktheBias

by | Mar 8, 2022

Pomelo jointly celebrates International Women’s Day 2022 by featuring 4 amazing female Pomelo People who will be sharing their inspiring stories and how they break the bias in their career journey. We want to take part in encouraging and motivating every woman who may be under-recognized, underrepresented, or needs advocates.

To all the women out there – remember that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Together, we can all #BreaktheBias!

In today’s post, meet Sayantani (Zeena) Roy, our Data Science Product Management, Associate Manager. Zeena is passionate about the world of technology and never lets the gender bias stop her from being an expert in the field where women were believed to be not good at.

What fascinates you and brings you to the world of Data Science and Technology?

I have always been fascinated by statistics and mathematics. They were one of my favorite subjects. I studied Physics in my undergraduate and then I started master’s in Computer Application. And I set my mind ever since that I will have a career in technology. I started my first job as an Operations Analyst. At that time, I was just working in the compliance operation and making reports. When creating reports, pulling, and trying to get insights from the report, I found that it really interested me a lot. So I decided to continue my career in data science. I learned more about recent technology like data visualization by myself. I have been working as a Data Scientist for the past five years and Pomelo is where I actually took the jump to be a Data Science Product Manager.

Throughout your career journey, what was the biggest challenge that you faced? And how did you navigate through that?

The first biggest challenge for me was to find out what I really liked because when you are just fresh out of college, you don’t know what you should do. I studied computer applications and all my friends were becoming software engineers so it was also a huge pressure on me to become a software engineer as well. But I knew I didn’t like it that as much. I really like something that excites me – like data science. Back in 2015-2016, data science was very new and was just started growing in India. There were not many courses available so it was my second biggest challenge to pick up and harness all technical skills through the job and by myself.

My third challenge was to move to a completely new country without knowing the language. I moved to a new country for my job. I really like my job and I am extremely dedicated to it so much that I’m willing to adapt to any change.

What’s your ultimate career goal? Is there anything you want to do specifically?

Career-wise, I want to become a leader like a strategy head or work somewhere where I can bring positive changes to the company and my team. But if I talk about my life goal, I would say that I don’t want my work to define my life. I want to become a person who can help other people, go back to my country, and maybe start a business or an NGO. So my life goal is to be happy and compassionate towards people and not to be stagnant.

So do you have a specific cause that you want to contribute to?

I am very enthusiastic about breaking stereotypes. I used to work in an advertising agency where I had to create data for advertisement strategies for many big companies. I have seen the bias among all the leadership. If one day, I become the head of strategy, I really want to bring that change so that people don’t stereotype and everyone can have an equal chance.

Also, I’m a photographer. I like to take pictures so I would love to make a movie about what women have to face. If you see on the Internet or anything, movies usually portray a male gaze on women, for example, they will put two women competing with each other. And I don’t like the idea of women competing with women. I think we should have this big sisterhood where we support each other. So if I am in the position where I can bring the change, of course, I want to work on that.

Have you ever been underestimated in your career just because you’re a woman?

In all the companies I have ever worked with other than Pomelo, I was the only female Data Scientist on my team. The number of women has always been less in the data science field. I have met so many amazing male and female mentors and I have never gotten any kind of underestimation from my managers because they know how well I am. However, I think the underestimation usually comes from other teams but of course, not all of them. Some of the engineering team I met would have this kind of idea that I cannot code because I am a woman or they would tell me like “okay, let me check your code” thinking that I don’t know how to do it. And then they would be very surprised to see that I could do better than them. 

I also like to dress up. I love fashion. I like to do makeup and dress nicely. Sometimes, people get surprised to know that I am a data scientist because they have this expectation that if you are working in technology, you should look or behave in a certain way. I think there’s also a bias that if you’re fashion-forward, you must be not in technology at all. But I can see slowly in the newer generations that more women, loving fashion or not, are working in technology right now.

As a woman in technology, why do you think women’s representation in the field is important?

Women bring different opinions and perspectives altogether, not just in the technology field but in every field. I’ll give you an example of a fashion application that targets women customers. How would you create an application with a perfect user experience without being a woman? You cannot know how they actually look into the size or anything. You need a female gaze and female opinion to build the product so perfectly.

So I think that it’s very important for women to participate in technology in every part. We need equal contribution because the users of the technology are women as well.

What do you want to say to girls who might feel hesitant to work in tech?

Take the chance! I see lots of my female friends that won’t apply for a job thinking that “oh, I don’t match 200% of the criteria.” At the same time, I see my male friends, they’re like “oh, 50% matches, I’ll just apply and see how the interview goes.” So I want more and more women to take the chance. I really want girls to be brave and take risks. Don’t think that you are not good enough. You will learn it anyway. I don’t want women to underestimate themselves.

How does Pomelo foster an inclusive workplace that is free from gender bias? And how does it support you?

First, I would definitely want to highlight my manager Deeksha (Pomelo’s Data Science, Director). She has been an amazing manager. She is the mentor to the whole team and always looks out for the mental wellness of everyone, making sure that no one feels pressured and that they work happily.

My team is 50% male and 50% female so it’s very much balanced. I would say that I have never felt any kind of stereotype or biasedness from anyone because of my gender.

I see lots of female employees in Pomelo working in the leadership as well. I’m seeing lots of women giving their inputs and creating strategies. At Pomelo, everyone gets an equal opportunity. Also, since Pomelo is a fashion & lifestyle platform, it helps bring all genders together under one umbrella where we are treated all equally and share the same vision.

I think that it’s very important for women to participate in technology in every part. We need equal contribution because the users of the technology are women as well.

Sayantani (Zeena) Roy, Data Science Product Management, Associate Manager

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