SRI Highlights Women’s Narratives: Acknowledging Women’s History Month

We foster environments where women can innovate, lead, and contribute.

March is Women’s History Month, an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions made by women who are making a difference. In recognition, we’re honoring the women of SRI, whose cutting-edge work and dedication continue to power global innovation in science, technology, education, and business. Here we offer a glimpse of just a few of those women, each of whom describes her role at SRI, her thoughts on working in STEM and beyond, and her advice to women who are considering their life’s work.

Laura Atleski (Magda): I’m the director of the Clinical Trials Unit at SRI, where I oversee operations, manage the clinical research staff, and develop new opportunities for our team to pursue. I focus on solving challenging and unfair aspects of healthcare, especially in rural and under-served communities. Managing my own chronic condition (Type 1 diabetes), I love being a female pioneer and physician-scientist who is breaking down barriers and solving complicated challenges in healthcare. I also love working with my dedicated team. It takes an army to find solutions, and working with the right people helps accomplish things that seem impossible.

I think women entering STEM fields often suffer self-doubt, but we can lean on each other to get our ideas and work out there, no matter what other people say, or even what you tell yourself during periods of self-doubt. Our life and work experiences shape us into who we dream of becoming. Enjoy the journey!

Monique d’Almeida: I’m the director of talent acquisition & diversity and I lead SRI’s recruitment and talent acquisition strategies to attract top-tier candidates, while also building a strong and diverse talent pipeline.

I love working with leaders and managers to find out what they’re looking for in an employee, speaking to candidates to understand their aspirations, and connecting the right person with the right position. I’ve faced challenges throughout my career, such as sometimes being seen not as a strategic partner, but rather as the woman who sets up meetings, takes notes, gets coffee, and takes lunch orders.

I would encourage young women to surround themselves personally and professionally with people who are smarter than they are, who think differently than they do, and who uplift them and help take them to the next level. I’d also recommend finding both female and male mentors. Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back and take credit for your work. Lastly, network, network, and NETWORK.

Melinda Gervasio: I’m a technical director at SRI’s AI Center, where I develop technology intended to interact with humans, as intelligent assistants, decision aids, training tools, or partners. It means putting human needs front and center and developing techniques that augment human capabilities so humans and AI can complement each other.

I love collaborating with my talented colleagues, and knowing that our work has the potential to make a difference in people’s lives. I’m fortunate to have been raised in the Philippines, where it is not a rarity for women to work in STEM and hold leadership roles. I can’t recall ever being made to feel less capable because I’m a woman, and I never shied away from STEM fields.

If you’re a young woman interested in STEM, go for it! It’s a great career. Talk to other women in your field, ask questions, and find others with similar interests who support each other. As you advance in your career give back, encourage, and mentor others.

Indira Jayaweera: I’m director of the Carbon and Water Management lab at SRI managing several climate-related projects, and I am an SRI Fellow. In my role, I oversee many aspects of lab operations including personnel and resources, project deadlines, and I also foster innovation and collaboration.

I love the innovation part of my job, and the opportunity to be creative and solve problems. I’ve faced various challenges over the course of my career including gender bias, salary disparities, and balancing work and family responsibilities. To overcome these obstacles, I focused on building confidence in my abilities and knowing my rights in the workplace.

I’m fortunate to have had mentors, supporters, and my family to guide and encourage me. Young women should believe in themselves, pursue their passions, and never hesitate to speak up and advocate for themselves in the face of unfairness. Never underestimate your abilities, and set the bar high.

These and many other women serve as inspiring role models, paving the way for future generations of women in their fields. Their stories remind us of the ongoing need for equality, representation, and support for women and all genders. As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, SRI will continue to create environments where people can innovate, lead, and contribute to a more equitable world.

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