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Shweta Sugnani


Fremont, CA

In my world, being a girl is not an obstacle; rather, an opportunity to allow passion, not stereotypes to shape my future.

Heads turned, tears dropped, and gossip-filled whispers echoed from the hospital corridors to the house windows. A mishap had occurred: a daughter was born. She wasn’t the first disappointment born to her family. Although my aunt was indifferent to the gender of the child, her mother-in-law constantly reminded her of the disgrace she would have to face if she gave birth to a daughter. These views, in this third world country, were prevalent among most. When I visited my relatives during the summer, one sentence managed to fill me with rage and start arguments with my so called relatives. "You are a girl; stay within your limits". Whether it was participating in sports or attending school dances, never did they try to grasp the culture of the country I lived in. I didn’t live in India anymore; it was different. Nonetheless, comparisons to my cousins led me to end the arguments for the time being and accept their aspect of life.

My words were imperceptible to them so my mind was set on proving them wrong.

Although their words didn’t tear me apart, their actions managed to. The amount of sexism in this culture, especially my hometown, was disheartening. It was the 21st century, yet women weren’t allowed to pray while menstruating, were asked to take upon jobs that required little skill and education, were conditioned to eat after the men at family gatherings, and it was mandatory for them to cook all the family meals. It was time to change these views.

As I was growing older, the same relatives repeatedly questioned me about my future. "What do you want to become, beti?" And the answer was always the same: electrical engineer. I have a passion for electronics; as cliché as it may sound, I was born to do this. When I connect wires together to repair something, an adrenaline-filled shock runs shivers down my spine. But when I tried to explain this to my relatives, all of them, except for my parents and grandparents, would gasp and giggle; giggle because they didn’t think I could live up to my goals, being a "girl and all". It was time to change these views.

In my world, being a girl is not an obstacle; rather, an opportunity to allow passion, not stereotypes to shape my future. I decided to channel my relatives’ chauvinistic views into positive energy. Rather than having it bring me down, I let it be my source of motivation in achieving my goal of becoming an engineer. I, Shweta Sugnani, a female, will become a successful engineer.