“Remember that the world is not binary. There is no such thing as a man’s job and a woman’s job. Everyone is equal and deserves the same chance to pursue their dreams, whatever they might be.” – Tara Bhatia
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
My name is Tara and I’m 17 years old. Currently, I am a junior at Washington High School in Fremont, CA. Growing up in the Bay Area, I have always been surrounded by technology. I grew up playing Super Mario Bros. on my Nintendo DS, and spent hours sitting in front of our grey, bulky desktop playing dress-up games. Instead of painting on regular paper like most of my peers did, I spent my Sunday afternoons tinkering with Microsoft Paint, and creating works of art from a computer.
However, my interest in technology, and programming specifically, dropped as I grew older. It wasn’t until I attended the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Outreach Summer Program after my freshman year that I realized the amazing applications CS and AI have on the world. One thing led to another, and I got the opportunity to attend Apple’s first-ever high school engineering and technology program the next summer. In order to pay it forward, my two friends and I co-founded Byte-Sized (Follow Byte-Sized on Facebook), an organization which specializes in weekend crash-course workshops in the field of CS and AI to local middle schoolers. Just a couple weeks ago, I got the chance to present my initiative as a #include fellow under the she++ organization.
What # would define your life journey?
Favorite website / app:
I love my iPhone and I probably cannot live without it. Two of my favorite websites would be Quora and Khan Academy. I can spend hours on Quora reading about people’s different opinions on controversial topics, and Khan Academy is super useful when I have trouble learning a concept at school, or if I’m curious about a specific topic not covered in school.
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
Sheryl Sandberg. As inspiring as it is to see a woman at such a high position in a major tech company, Sandberg’s role as a mother of two, handling the work/home balance so smoothly, leaves me in awe. Sandberg is known for preaching how women leaders are less liked than their male counterparts and how their low confidence is the biggest barrier in their way of success. However, she is a living example of someone who has not let this get in her way. She is not just an executive at a big company; she is a leader, a role model and an icon for our entire generation.
Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
The reason I was so engrossed with technology as a young girl was primarily because of my father. However, whenever he attempted to explain what coding was, I would quickly walk away, groaning “it’s too boringgggg.”
It was not until a couple of summers ago, when I wrote my first few lines of code, that hooked me into the world of code. On a summer evening of 2014, my sister and I were watching a TED Talk given by Reshma Saujani. This TED Talk repeated the fact that “coding was an important life skill, and how one does not have to be ‘perfect’ to write it” (Saujani 2014). After the pep talk from the video, my sister and I decided to give coding a try to see what was so great about it, and also to kill time during the summer. We googled “how to code” and a plethora of resources popped up. We found an online program called Scratch, and started playing around with it. I found it really funny when my sister made the cat on Scratch perform interesting motions by inputting certain “blocks” that had commands on them. The blocks I inputted served the same purpose as code. I gave it a try myself, and I was surprised when I realized I was “coding” because I never knew coding had the potential of being so enjoyable. The fact that anyone can create something from nothing, except access to technology is what keeps me excited to delve more into this career option.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Try new things! If I didn’t take the first step and try out coding that one summer, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I was so against coding growing up as a child, but when I entered high school and gave it a shot, it opened so many doors for me. Remember that the world is not binary. There is no such thing as a man’s job and a woman’s job. Everyone is equal and deserves the same chance to pursue their dreams, whatever they might be. 🙂