“If you are a mom, you are a superhero!”
To all the supermoms out there, this letter by Swetha Manickavasagam shines the spotlight on one of many inspiring moms who exhibit great work in tech as a woman.
That super mom is Nithya Kalyani. The QA lead.
She was born in a typical south Indian family who believes education can create wonder, but still wrap their daughter in the myth that she is emotional, fragile. She spent her childhood days dreaming of three meals per day, a leak proof hut, and enjoying candy without fear there would be no more. Despite this, she proved to be the first graduate of the family. She met familial expectations to tie the knot at 21, a benchmark of success for women: being a perfect wife, where your education is merely a piece of paper.
“Life is a series of building, testing, changing and iterating,” she says
This environment has never made her gloomy, but it has always allowed her to dream. She was married at 21, which set her on the road to survival. Before she could realize what marriage was, she was a mom. Before she could nourish herself as a mom, constant battle made her single. And battle proved she was a warrior.
“Roads of my life have never been straight or smooth, the uncertain twists and turns, unexpected stops and goodbyes. I must move forward preparing myself to take a calculated risk on occasion. This journey always demanded a new me, new only me.”
Life has set her on fire that she can no longer have needs, rather she should dare to dream. Being a single mom, she had to go through stampedes of emotional assault, society abuses, financial crunches, sexism and face all storms that could blow her away. But then she never let herself down and managed to survive.
“I would like to be remembered as someone who was not afraid to do what she wanted to do, and as someone who took risks along the way in order to achieve her goals.”
Entering the IT industry was also not a red carpet for her, but still it let her alleviate her life struggles. She was also the favorite student in all her school and college days. The love and inspiration from her teachers made teaching a passion for her. To overcome her financial crunches, she had to serve as an early morning online tutor, which also made her work toward her passion amid the chaos. Along with her career marathon, she also pursued her PG and served as a guest lecturer during her studies.
“I find myself not fretting with any of the objects that have been programmed as my gender function.”
Starting as a testing trainee, a decade old journey has led her here as a QA lead, and a teaching professional, indeed, part time as a passion. Firstly, encountering the gender stereotype, earning the same level of respect and recognition as male colleagues was a frustrating experience for women. She started to view them as a co-worker rather a counterpart. She stopped expecting them to align with her thoughts, she rather made herself audible to them. Secondly, the act of balancing work-personal life was highly challenging. Raising herself, starting her career and raising her family started at the same time. The culpability of the new mom and the same guilt led her wool-gathering at work. This haunted her during the initial stages, but she says that, “More than being a mom, I am more responsible in raising a woman, which laid the blueprint for what I am.”
Today, Nithya is an inspiration for many young girls and moms who think motherhood is a barrier for shining in the tech industry. She stands as an idol breaking down the preconceived notions of how women should appear and act at work.
“In my journey, I sculpted myself with wings to fly by licking the wounds from walking. I learnt the art of emasculation on every single day, combating against the myth my environment has set, concealing my fears. In my past, I used to think why fortune never allowed me to meet ordinary girl desires, but destiny made me realize, I am an extraordinary person to reach dreams beyond needs”.