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Sharoda Paul, WISE camp 2007 Instructor, Penn State University. 


My Story



Hi, I'm Sharoda Paul. I was born and raised in the small and green city of Jamshedpur (JSR) in Eastern India. I completed my high school education from Sacred Heart Convent, JSR and Loyola School, JSR.



 Where it started

When I was in 7th grade my father brought home the book ‘Computers Today’ by Donald Sanders. It had many colorful pictures and easy-to-understand explanations about how computers work. I was fascinated and could not stop reading. This was also the time that I was introduced to computer science courses in high school and I discovered a natural aptitude for and inclination towards programming. Thus started the journey which led me to take up computer science engineering in Birla Institute of Technology, MESRA in Ranchi, India.


The missing link

During college I studied a variety of subjects like databases, programming (languages like C, C++, Java), artificial intelligence, modeling and simulation, computer architecture, networks etc. While I enjoyed learning about all this, I always felt that there was something missing in my education; that I was not getting the ‘whole picture’ of computer science. I didn’t know what exactly was missing, but I always felt that I needed to learn more.


What next?

So, in the final year of college I applied to graduate school in computer science in the US. A few days after I had sent in my applications I was browsing the Web and found the website of the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) at Penn State University




The field of information sciences and technology, as I found out, was interested in the connections between information, technology, and people. All my life I had studied how people (developers) build technology (computers). But, what I had never learnt to think about was how technology affects people (users). Another important aspect of today’s world had been missing from my education – how to deal with the vast amounts of information in today’s technologically-driven society. I applied and got accepted into the Ph.D. program at IST and have spent three wonderful years here working on research on how technology can be used in medicine and healthcare.





















The road ahead

I have learnt that even though I always knew what I wanted to do in my career, I had a very narrow view of that career. I hope that in this camp we can encourage you to think beyond simply taking up a ‘computer science’ or ‘medical’ field as your career. You have a long way to go before you narrow in on what you want to do with the rest of your life. We would like to ensure that you start thinking about it.



About being a woman in the technology field

In the computer science stream in 11th grade there were 8 women and 40 men in my class.  I realized then that I was always going to be in the gender minority in my career. Along the way, my female colleagues and I have sometimes felt that we were being treated differently than our male counterparts. But I have also realized that there is a fundamental difference between how men and women approach technical problems. And as women we bring a unique perspective to technical fields.



It is true that society is still not as open to the idea of women in technology careers as it is to the idea of men in such careers. Families might discourage women from taking up science careers and it might be considered ‘un-cool’ or ‘un-feminine’ for women to take up fields like engineering, manufacturing, medicine, mining, aviation, etc.. But that is why it is also very rewarding to fight the stereotypes. We hope that this camp will help you feel more confident about yourself as a woman in the sciences.





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