5 Women who broke many stereotypes and fought all odds to become Software Engineers

Masai School
8 min readNov 2, 2021

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We are all aware of the cultural norms and patriarchal beliefs that do not support women in India from pursuing their dream jobs. One might argue that it is 2021, but this phenomenon is still prevalent in the present day.

However, some stories from a few of our female graduates and now-developers prove that hard work and perseverance can help anyone shatter through any hard-to-break stereotypes and societal belief systems.

Here are 5 such stories from Masai School that inspire millions of young female professionals in the country to take the same plunge.

Pavithra N

Pavitha is 31-year-old, married and born to a farmer and a homemaker. Her parents are not educated, and never went to any school. They got her married early but Pavithra’s determination to become a Software Developer was very high since an early age.

Soon after engineering, Pavithra tied the knot. Later, she developed a couple of small websites for her husband’s project and for a friend’s business. She decided to then find herself a job but in vain. She did not have any prior experience in the IT industry earlier so she wasn’t able to find employment.

Now being a homemaker after her marriage, Pavithra stepped into college again for her post graduation to fulfill her dream to become a software engineer.

“I was excited to start my career in the IT Industry. But unfortunately due to family issues, I had to get separated from my husband and shifted to my native town with my child. Due to those issues, I had taken 6 months of break, so it was not easy for me to accept and move on. I got disturbed mentally, even though I joined as a Java developer at a startup, I wasn’t able to give my best. So I quit that job and joined as a Computer Science teacher and worked for a year in Chennai.”

Due to the pandemic, Pavithra could not get a decent home in Chennai. So she moved back to her hometown, and would get paid very less at about Rs. 7,000 to 9,000 a month. She could not manage home expenses and her young children.

It was time for her to upskill herself in the Software industry. She researched and enquired with some training institutes to learn new technologies and joined a Mumbai -based institution, where they promised her a job offer after completion of course.

“But they deceived the students without finishing the course fully and they did not provide any placements.“

Then she got to know about Masai School and did some research on the curriculum, placements and enquired through posting questions on social media and got to know more.

In 7 months, Pavithra persisted to upskill herself through online coding schools and courses and came across Masai School. Today, she works as an Associate Software Engineer at GlobalLogic and independently supports herself and her family.

Nagalakshmi Palyam

21-year-old Nagalakshmi comes from a humble family of farmers in Andhra Pradesh. Having studied in a Telugu-medium school run by the local government, she was financially supported and mentored by a local NGO called Swadha Foundation for her higher education.

She pursued Electronics and Communication Engineering with the hopes of becoming a VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) Development Engineer.

In the final year of college, she learnt that the scope of VLSI was very dim. Companies based outside India don’t really give a lot of chances to freshers without any practical experience in the VLSI field. She decided to drop the idea altogether and appear for an off-campus placement drive conducted by her college.Under the guidance of her NGO mentors, she shifted her focus to an in-demand field like Software Development and applied for jobs that offered tech-based opportunities, thinking she can improve her skills in Coding simultaneously while working. However, things didn’t seem to work in her favour even as she kept her personal interest at bay.

While appearing for interviews, Nagalakshmi faced a lot of rejections because of her below-average skills, both technical and communicational. It was slowly getting harder for her to have a career she could be proud of and this was something she had never imagined being an excellent student throughout.

However, after joining Masai School, she took the Android Development course to become an Android Developer at GlobalFair.

Rajeswari Subramaniam

Rajeswari Subramaniam is a Computer Science graduate from the 1997–01 batch. She studied in Jayamatha Engineering College in Kanyakumari, and finished her M.Tech in Computer Science from RV College of Engineering, Bengaluru. Back in 1994–95, the only trend in technology was to choose Math and Science and apply for engineering colleges. It was quite a prestige at the time to become a Software Engineer and work in IT companies. Rajeswari’s parents too, encouraged her to pursue the same.

Before college, she got married. It took her 4 more years to become a college lecturer. This was because the offer fell in her lap only by chance but not because she was actively looking for any. Besides, the college was also close to her residence. She worked in 2 different colleges, teaching numerous subjects for Computer Science students. Rajeswari recalls that the syllabus remained the same in the textbooks for more than a decade at the time. These topics were nowhere close to the contemporary technologies in the IT industry, and even the best of Computer Science graduates would end up being half as skilled to work in the industry as developers, whether in services or products.

“As a lecturer also, it was also equally important to understand the desired skill sets in the real industry. Theoretical knowledge can always be gained by learning, but real experience only comes with practice. And for all of us, colleges made it mandatory that we do Phd to further continue in teaching.”

She was once referring to an advertisement in Times of India about Masai School. This was also when she was deciding between taking up research in the field and pursuing a job as a Software Developer. Though she had nothing to do with the rapidly evolving technology trends in the IT industry since she was on the teaching side, Rajeswari was keen to know what was really happening on the other side.

At a crossroads between Phd and working as a developer, she chose the latter. Subsequently, she also knew that she needed to upskill herself with plenty of industry-relevant skills. The structure at Masai School seemed just about right and it wasn’t at all hard for the Assistant Professor to crack the admission test and the interview at Masai.

Cut to 2021, Rajeswari now works as a Frontend Web Developer at SuperProcure.

Arbeena Khanum

Arbeena Khanum was brought up in a joint family, in Bengaluru’s Shivajinagar neighborhood. With her entire family wanting her to become a doctor, she chose Biology as one of her subjects in 12th boards. But Arbeena, who lost her father very early, counts him being a computer operator as a major influence in her choice. Her mother, a housewife, encouraged Arbeena to pursue what she really wanted to.

From Class 7, Arbeena started to meddle with Java in school computer labs. In her later teens, when she was introduced to the world of WhatsApp. This was when the internet in India was transitioning from SMS text messaging to WhatsApp.

Having learnt that Java is the base for overall Android application development, she narrowed down her focus to master the programming language. After joining Masai School, owing to her consistent performance in every unit, Arbeena was selected for the Masai School Glide Program, under which she was offered a monthly allowance of Rs 15,000 which would later be adjusted for in her ISA payments. With the help of this allowance, she says she was able to upgrade her internet infrastructure and also her computer’s system capabilities.

“I was using a low RAM Desktop computer with Windows 7 OS on it. Since I was an Android Developer, I needed to use Android Studio which was RAM-heavy. I was also using only my mobile internet’s hotspot while coding at home. With the allowance I received from the Glide Program, I upgraded my RAM to 8GB and installed broadband internet. My mother was extremely happy that I received this financial support to keep up with my infrastructural expenses.”

Arbeena now works with Go with DOT as an Android Developer.

Soumitha Bhaskara

Having studied in Telugu medium throughout her education, the 21-year-old Soumitha comes from a small village called Palamaner, Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh. Soumitha dreamt of becoming an aeronautical engineer, but she took a keen interest in web development and had the knack for designing websites for a long time.

Thanks to an NGO named ‘Join the Dots Foundation’, Soumitha got to hear about Masai School. However, she did not imagine that she would end up taking a high-paying job in tech at the end of the course. A bachelor’s graduate in Electronics and Communication Engineering, Soumitha was able to crack through some campus placements soon after her graduation. Despite the offers being decent, Soumitha realised that she just wasn’t skilled enough. The college she studied in, did not have basic access to quality campus placements. Getting a high-paying job at a tech company was a dream next to impossible.

From English-speaking skills to basic technical knowledge, she had a lot of questions around her capabilities to excel at any job. Masai School was her answer. But beyond technical skills and communication skills, Soumitha’s family recommended that she not move out of the village after her education, owing to some cultural barriers and also financial constraints.

However, Soumitha never gave up and went ahead to choose her own career. Today, she is overwhelmed with the fact that she is now a local superstar and a figure of admiration and inspiration for the peers in her village. Family members and relatives point at her and ask their own children to ‘Be Like Soumitha’.

She cracked a software developer job at a Bengaluru-based tech startup, making a salary that she could not think she would ever make.

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