Being Involved with WISH Made All the Difference for this Computer Engineering Student
Coming into Cal Poly, Nayana Tiwari knew she would be one of few women in her major classes. But then she attended a WISH meeting (Women Involved with Software and Hardware club) and was stunned to see so many women from a variety of tech majors at Cal Poly at these meetings. She never thought there would be a community where the gender ratios she’d witnessed in class were completely reversed. She became acquainted with women of all majors, backgrounds, interests, and career goals. The WISH club provided opportunities for her to get involved by pairing her with a mentor and giving her a chance to volunteer for different activities all the while helping her connect to a strong network of other women-in-tech like herself.
The same year, Nayana wrote a report regarding the retention of CPE females in the major for one of her writing courses. “I was struck by the significant number of women who switched out of CPE,” said Nayana. One of her recommendations was introduce incoming female students to WISH. She even became a WISH officer to help facilitate this change.
As she approached her second year, she faced another challenge: Not feeling secure with her technical skills. “I thought as I gained more experience in the major, I would start feeling more confident,” said Nayana. “But that didn’t happen.”
However, through the support she received from WISH, she was able to identify what those feelings were and address them. “I learned through my WISH community that everyone — fellow classmates, senior students, mentors in industry and alumni — felt fear and self-doubt at one time or another and I wasn’t alone,” Nayana shared. “To see that I had this in
common with the successful women I admired gave me confidence in my own abilities and a real sense of community.”
“Through the years, I have been able to connect with a variety of mentors and mentees and gained valuable insights from those relationships. I’ve used that knowledge to develop the skills necessary to run our technical workshops. I’ve also gained a deeper understanding of allyship through the opportunities I have with WISH.
I am able to center myself within my identity as a woman in computing and within a large, welcoming group of women on campus. I am excited to be in a position where I can work to create a more supportive community for women in all software and hardware majors. WISH has been a big part of my academic, social, and personal development, and I look forward to continuing my involvement with the club.”