Breaking Gender Barriers and Stereotypes with Salubrious

February 16, 2022

Vaishnavi Jaiswal is a 16-year old, high school junior, innovator, author, and the Founder & Executive director of ‘The Salubrious Organisation’.

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Let’s rewind back to my middle school years; the most popular question that was always asked of me was, “Who do you want to be when you grow up?”

Growing up, the woman who inspired me a lot was the Indian-American Astronaut ‘Kalpana Chawla’. I have always considered her as my role model and wanted to be an astronaut just like her, and looking up to her, it felt safe that if she did it, I can do it, too.

Fast forward to high school, I started realizing my love for coding and started acknowledging the fact that I had always been scared to dream of a career in tech because I had no one to look up to, the only names that were said aloud were of white and Asian men.

I also started observing that the coding tutoring organizations in India were always gender-biased with their content, resources, and opportunities. It was obvious that the tech industry is specifically for boys. At that point I was just like, “Whoa, okay this does not feel right, nothing here feels right. I don’t know what’s going on,” and what I realized was that in an area where tech is so accessible, we’re seeing these really enormous disparities in who is really accessing these opportunities.

I used the internet as my biggest tool and started looking up for #womenintech, which brought me down with the fact there are wonderful women out there making an impact but are hardly acknowledged, and young girls like me who want to join this field lack support, resources, and mentors.

Soon after, I started interviewing women in the technology field and published information about them, and that’s when “Salubrious” initially started – as a blog, and it soon grew into a non-profit organization with launching workshops on Introductory CS and Entrepreneurship skills and designing open-access modules, resources and much more. We have reached 100+ volunteers from 30+ countries and have impacted 50,000+ students across the globe with our workshops, events, and social media.

What we like to emphasize through our program is our idea of a STEMx narrative where we teach STEM in an applicable fashion, not a theoretical fashion, to amplify the notion that STEM is a force for social good in a variety of ways regardless of what your passion is.

We try to teach these basic stem concepts while tying in an aspect of social entrepreneurship & tech leadership in every program. I envision a world in which it doesn’t matter what background you come from or what you look like & everyone is treated equally, I imagine people working together, sitting across from each other, and there is a diverse set of skills, a diverse set of backgrounds. People from all different socioeconomic levels, people of different sexualities, people of different ethnic backgrounds all come together to solve the problem that our society faces.

I hope that the work that we’re doing for Salubrious ensures that the younger generations face less of a hurdle in pursuing careers regardless of the gender stereotypes they used to be tied to. With that said, I know that pursuing male-dominated fields could be a hard task, and you might not receive a lot of support from the school or from your immediate community. Know that communities like Salubrious exist online and are here to help and support you.

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