As women living in India, many of us might feel a pinch (read: truck full) of self-doubt and lack of self-confidence from time to time. But with Spriha Mandal, these two were old friends that failed her since her childhood.
A rebel at heart, Spriha is a person who likes to prove people wrong. She was always told that girls cannot be versatile. They can either be sportif or be inclined to the arts or be academically brilliant. But never all. Spriha proved them wrong. This is her story.
As a Bengali kid, Spriha’s parents believed in an all-round education. Spriha had already earned 3 Bachelor degrees in Rabindra Sangeet before attending engineering college. And along with music, she was also trained in Kathak and Kuchipudi.
But her inclination for the classical didn’t limit her from trying other genres. Soon, she found herself grooving to hip-hop beats too.
When it came to sports, Spriha recalls, “I was told I couldn’t run a 500-metre race…I did it. They told me I can’t play dodgeball; I did that too.”
This is who Spriha is – someone who doesn’t let herself be limited to stereotypes.
Actions speak louder than words
Spriha’s family moved to Vizag when she was in school. Her parents had a tough childhood and wanted to give their daughter the best of everything and so, Spriha’s academics had to be stellar.
In 9th grade, she cleared the FITJEE exam and got a 100% scholarship to attend the coaching in her plus two. And in 10th grade, she got a perfect 10 CGPA.
But what happens when someone repeatedly tells you are not good enough? You start believing it. The same happened with Spriha and her performance in high school suffered. She secured a seat in VIT but couldn’t attend due to monetary challenges.
In the end, Spriha got an admission in Amrita University, Kerala with 90% scholarship. She was the only female student who got a 90% scholarship and hence faced a little ill-will from her peers. As you can imagine, engineering college was not a joyride.
In her third year, a senior told Spriha about WE Program, offered by TalentSprint, supported by Google —a program supported by Google that aims to train and nurture 600+ women engineers by 2022. This program hopes to increase the number of women in the Indian technology sector.
Spriha took the test and got a place in the program. She recalls that the bootcamp was an eye-opener, “this was the first time I saw people around me coding not because they had to or someone told them to…but because they wanted to. All the girls wanted to work together and learn from each other.”
WE encourages self-learning and self-awareness. Spriha recounts an incident that made her realise an unconscious bias we harbour about heroes being male.
She says, “One of the groups had coded a game where the protagonist was male …Asokan (Asokan Pichai, Chief Product Officer, TalentSprint) just asked us why is it that, as women, we would design a game with a male protagonist… it was a simple thing but it was an eye-opener.”
The training at the bootcamp and the mentoring sessions with Dawn Kuenzi, her Google mentor made Spriha realise that she’d being underplaying her skills for far too long and that she needed to believe in herself more.
Back from the bootcamp, Spriha landed a job with TCS Digital.
In 2021, Spriha says she’d like to work on increasing her self-confidence. We, for one, know for a fact that she will succeed since this self-realisation is coming from a girl who believes actions speak louder than words.