From feeling invisible to becoming invincible

My name is Shriya Gupta. I’m the Managing Director of Girls in Tech Toronto and the founder of the food technology startup Daily Blends which makes fresh, healthy and contact-free meals easily accessible to everyone.

I grew up in India. My academic background is in Finance and Business Management. From the very early years of my career, I wanted to work in different countries and gain international work experience. My global journey started when I went to Singapore to pursue my double master’s degree from the National University of Singapore. I was passionate about the tech space and I began my tech career working in SaaS sales. Later on, I got into product management and led product strategy for tech companies. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with a number of tech companies in Spain, Singapore, and Canada.

Throughout my journey as a woman of color in tech, I’ve felt excluded on a number of occasions. But these experiences have made me stronger. It’s always been my goal to make a difference by being part of the movement to eliminate the gender gap in tech. I’ve continuously worked to make sure that women have an equal voice and representation at the companies I worked at — whether it’s by organizing events, spotlighting women leaders and making sure that an equal number of female and male job candidates were entitled to interviews. One of my main motivations to start the Girls in Tech chapter in Toronto was the desire to give back and share my learnings and experiences with other women who are passionate about technology. I believe that organizations like Girls in Tech are doing an incredible job at eliminating the gender gap and promoting diversity and inclusivity.

When was the last time you felt invisible?

A few instances come to my mind of the time before I moved to Canada, from the sales meetings attended with my male engineer colleagues. Even though I was the one who led the meeting, being the only woman in the room there were times I felt invisible, and people assumed I could not be the decision-maker. There were instances when people didn’t engage in a discussion with me or didn’t ask any questions directly but automatically directed their questions to my engineering team, assuming I wouldn’t have the information. There were some instances when my colleagues assumed I would take care of the meeting refreshments and coffee.

Even though this constant bias was discouraging, I didn’t let it get to me. Every instance helped me grow a thicker skin. If I wasn’t being invited to participate in a discussion, I took the initiative to actively engage and lead the conversation. When people repeatedly assumed that I was taking care of the refreshments, I started to be vocal about it and reminded my colleagues that it was a shared responsibility.

To every girl and woman out there who has experienced similar instances, I ask them to be fearless and outspoken. Learn how to say ‘no’.

How can someone be a good ally to you?

In my opinion, someone who is encouraging, genuine, and gives constructive feedback can be a good ally. I strongly believe that to make the system more inclusive each one of us needs to stand up, speak up and take action.

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