"I Can See Myself in STEM" Ambassador Profile - Sindhu Sreedhar

Sindhu Sreedhar

Automotive Supplier Development Engineer
Toyota Motor North America

Personal Statement:

As a kid, I always had some new idea of what I wanted to be: an artist, an astronaut, a news reporter, a writer. It was not until high school that I realized I wanted to pursue a career in STEM. I loved my science classes in high school-- I even took three science classes during my senior year of high school! When I got to college, I knew I loved biology, but I did not know if the job types that came after a science major were right for me. So, I decided to explore engineering instead. Growing up, I did not know much about engineering. My dad is a software engineer, which is very different from other engineering fields, so to younger me, engineering was boring and involved sitting at a computer all day.

When I learned about other engineering fields, like mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and chemical engineering, I recognized that engineering is hands-on. Being an engineer often means you can see and touch the things you are working on and see the impact they make in the real world. Once I learned this, it was an easy decision to choose engineering, and I decided to major in chemical engineering in college.

I began as a materials engineer, where I was responsible for designing seat fabrics and leathers, and my current job involves working with the automotive suppliers who make the seats that go in Toyota vehicles. In both my roles I have been involved in a part of the vehicle that is important to both safety and appearance. It is so rewarding to see the impact of my work in the real world!  

What types of things interested you when you were a kid?

I was creative as a kid. I loved inventing things, writing stories, and exploring the woods around my childhood home.

What were your favorite subjects in school?

Biology and Environmental Science

Did you face any barriers or challenges growing up? What were they?

The biggest challenge I faced was thinking I had to be the smartest one in my class, and the best in my job, and if I did not, I was not allowed to be a scientist or engineer. That is not true! You do not have to be the best at your field. As long as you are passionate about your field and you love it, you will always have the drive to push through any challenges.

What type of advice do you have for girls who are interested in pursuing a STEM career?

There may be times in your career where you are the only woman in the room. It can feel really lonely, but it is important to remember that in the next room, there is probably another woman who is feeling the exact same thing. Find people who are similar to you, even if they do not have all the same identities and experiences as you, and you will feel a lot more comfortable and welcome! It is also okay to dislike being the only woman in the room. Studies have shown that people that are the only one with their identity in their career struggle with feeling lonely. I have also had a hard time being queer in STEM. I often feel worried about being out in a field that has traditionally discouraged discussions about identity. That is why it is incredibly important to find other people in your field that are like you!

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