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Expanding Diversity in STEM, with Meena Boppana

January 16, 2019

Today’s guest is Meena Boppana, Head of University at and advocate for increased diversity in STEM. Meena is a lifelong math lover working to promote greater opportunities for young people in the STEM world. She and Richard discuss her journey from MATHCOUNTS competitor, to Harvard grad, to her current position helping connect talented job searchers with elite tech companies.

You’ll hear about what it was like for Meena growing up in a very mathematical family, and how her boundless enthusiasm for math could sometimes be a little too much for her teachers. Meena discusses her progression through math competitions, how she first became aware of the limiting preconceptions about what a “mathy person” was supposed to be, and how important it is for young mathematicians to have positive role models that they can identify with.

You’ll also hear about Meena’s time at Harvard, where she learned not only about computer science, but about the problems around diversity in higher education, where something as innocuous as a study lounge could become a major obstacle for women and minorities majoring in math. Meena discusses the lessons she learned about student advocacy, such as how to make allies and why you should be careful about picking your battles.

Meena and Richard also discuss how she joined, which helps software engineers gain technical interview experience and land job interviews with prestigious tech companies. Meena discusses how her work not only benefits job searchers and companies, but helps cut down on the biases and preconceptions that limit hiring in STEM, creating a more level playing field for everyone.

If you’d like to learn more, you can find Meena’s writing on Medium and on the blog.

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