Anagha Arvind: An Encouraging Voice for Women in STEM

Some people aren’t sure of their passions at a young age, but that can’t be said about Anagha Arvind. From a childhood of reading books about STEM to middle school science fair projects, the BU senior has always had a deep interest in the field. Now a biomedical engineering major, Arvind’s childhood interests have permeated into her education. When she was a child, her family introduced her to the STEM field.

“My family would always get me building kits… and books about STEM,” Arvind said.

After moving from India to Massachusetts at ten years old, Arvind was able to join various clubs that allowed her even more experience with science fair projects and collaborative engineering classes. 

Woman placing sticky notes on wall in office meeting Photo by You X Ventures from Unsplash She continued this path in college, but being a woman in a male-dominated field definitely presented many challenges. Through group projects and interactions with students in other engineering fields, Arvind found a difference in the way male students treated their female peers.

Male classmates "steamrolled" over her ideas and suggestions or acted as if they had more knowledge on the subject.

“I thought this wouldn’t be a thing in college,” Arvind said. “You shouldn’t feel the need to prove yourself just because your classmates are guys.” 

Despite this reality, Arvind reflected that things could be worse. Her mother also studied engineering in India as the only woman in her graduating class, and Arvind recounted her many stories of having to prove herself to her male colleagues. 

“She’s gone through much more of this than I’ve gone through,” Arvind said.

She often shares her struggles with her mother and finds encouragement from her experiences.

Arvind’s involvement in STEM doesn’t end in the classroom. She serves on the e-board for the BU chapter of Girls Who Code, a national organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in computer science. In the summer of 2020, the club launched Bits and Bytes, which teaches elementary and high school students how to code, and Arvind serves as a co-lead for the program. 

After the program’s first semester, Arvind had already found it to be rewarding. Many students reached out to express their enjoyment of the program and how much they learned from the experience.

“It was the satisfaction that I actually made a difference,” Arvind said, her smile serving as proof of the impact the program had on her.

When asked about her advice for women entering male-dominated STEM fields, Arvind encouraged female students to take advantage of all the clubs and classes available.

“There’s a club for almost anything,” Arvind laughed. She referenced coding camps and summer STEM programs as a great way to gain experience throughout high school and even college. As far as the gender ratio goes, Arvind encouraged students not to be intimidated by it.

“You will be as good as them,” Arvind insisted. “Just take every opportunity you can get.”

With people as tenacious as Arvind paving the way, advice like that rings pretty true.

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