SRI Honors Women’s Progress: Paying Tribute to 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.

Satabdi Basu: I’m a deputy director in SRI’s education division, where I design curricula and technology-based tools to help students learn computer science and AI concepts, and teachers teach those topics. I love working in education at a time when the field is growing and there’s so much impact to be made and I’m able to collaborate with talented researchers in different areas. When I was doing my PhD in computer science, I was the only female member in my lab for a long time, and although everyone was very respectful, it often felt lonely.

Challenges exist for young women pursuing higher degrees in STEM. It’s a complex systemic problem, but I try and raise awareness whenever possible because recognizing a problem is the first step to solving it. I would urge young women to join local, professional networks, form support groups of like-minded folks, go to networking events to meet new people, and find solid allies, and mentors.

Julie Bert: I head up SRI’s Hardware Research and Technology Lab and lead a team of brilliant scientists who are trying to develop new technology solutions to problems that impact climate, health, and manufacturing. We work to bridge the gap between basic research and applied solutions that have business impact.

I love the variety of my work — in the people I interact with, their diverse technical experience, and the problems we’re trying to solve. I’ve been very lucky to have faced few problems as a woman in STEM; the places where I’ve studied and worked have all had strong cultures of respect and autonomy. I’d tell women that the people you work with are the most important factor impacting your happiness in a job, so when you interview, imagine yourself working every day with the people you’re talking to. Do you like and respect them? Do they treat you well as a candidate? These people and the culture that they’re living will be one of the biggest drivers of your overall job satisfaction.

Priyanka Shukla: I am a senior research scientist in macromolecular biosciences. I work on the FOX Three Molecular Guidance Systems that effectively transports gene-targeted nucleic acid bioconjugate into target cell types. This enables accurate delivery of nucleic acid that maintains complete functionality in suppressing gene expression.

The longevity and professional advancement of my career as a woman can be attributed to maintaining authenticity, demonstrating perseverance, and steadfastly pursuing my enthusiasm for conducting cancer research. I was presented with numerous opportunities to thrive, and I eagerly embraced each one. I occasionally experienced frustration when my many questions were answered with the response, “Well, we don’t know yet.” Subsequently, I became determined to dedicate my professional life to clarifying inquiries to enhance cancer research.

I actively seek out colleagues and mentors who genuinely support my personal development and motivate me to strive for improvement. I am grateful to the people in my life who see my potential and offer unwavering support. To young ladies who want to pursue STEM careers, I say, don’t limit your options, prepare yourself to create your path, and never give up!

Mellissa Silva: I’m responsible for the overall security of all SRI spaces, the protection of national security program compliance, and classified material. I love working for a company that focuses on bettering our day-to-day lives and protecting our national security, and I take extreme pride in this work.

Government security has always been a male-driven industry, and in the past I’ve had to deal with some scary and unfair situations that called for uncomfortable conversations. I found that being clear in my communications always pays off. My advice to women is to listen. This doesn’t mean keeping quiet; it means taking a strategic pause, perhaps asking questions, and then listening again. I have found with this approach; you allow yourself to full understand the ask or issue which allows you to provide and effect resolution or solution.

When I started doing this, I began hearing amazing things. I’ve taken several courses on different listening styles, and I consider it one of my best attributes.

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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