#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Aashia Mehta

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” — Sally Berger

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m Aashia Mehta, a current Senior at Los Altos High School in Los Altos, CA. However, I previously attended Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, CA. Currently, I am organizing Los Altos Hacks II, which is a student-run hackathon targeted at high school students in the Bay Area. It aims to be an all-inclusive event that allows students to express their creativity and eliminate the social obstacles surrounding programming. We hope to have a 50:50 female to male ratio this year to encourage more girls to pursue STEM related fields. I have been a Girl Scout for nearly twelve years and just finished my Gold Award project, which entailed teaching web technology to senior citizens at the Mountain View Senior Center. I am also the Vice Chair of the Mountain View Youth Advisory Committee and enjoy water sports such as diving and water polo.

Fun fact: I am addicted to puns.

What # would define your life journey?

Favorite website / app:
Google Keep is definitely the most-used application on my phone because making lists keeps me on task and orderly. I am also a huge Youtube fanatic and spend my free time watching videos on DIY Projects to Khan Academy tutorials. I subscribe to around 300 people.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
My dad is a professional software engineer and he inspired me to take Java my freshman year, which sparked my interest in majoring in computer science. He also informed me that high tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple have a low representation of women in technology. Women will need to take these esteemed positions in the future, so we need to educate ourselves and be role models for other women. Ever since then, I have been a huge advocate for women in technology and hope to see the numbers of female technologists rising in the near future!

Song that makes you want to dance:
Hey Ya by Outkast

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I attended my first high school hackathon, a 24 hour coding competition, in the middle of my sophomore year. Surrounded by ninja coders who had won at collegiate hackathons, organized hackathons, and knew over five programming languages, I felt left out and intimidated by the competition. I barely had any coding experience and the time constraint just added to stress. Like most novices, I spent more time thinking about a project idea than coding. I presented my project with a messy user interface and an unoriginal idea in front of unimpressed judges. My disappointment with my performance motivated me to attend another hackathon, where I was determined to learn rather than win. As I became comfortable with the learner role, I took full advantage of the teamwork opportunities, and as a result of peer feedback I ended up with an original idea, which I have already put into use.

Ideal Job:
My ideal job is a computer scientist, specializing in artificial intelligence.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Give everything a shot. As a senior in high school applying for college, I was constantly told that you must commit to an activity from the start and excel at it in order to put it on your application. Nonetheless, this is not the case. I wish I was told to explore my options more and try new things. Some women have no questions around self-confidence, but a lot of women do. Recognize that just because you’re worried you’re not doing well, doesn’t mean you aren’t. Seek out a mentor. It could be a woman or it could be another man who is supportive as well.

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