'Representation is monumental': Kitchener author pens inclusive STEM books
KITCHENER -- As International Women's Day approaches, a Kitchener author and tech worker is hoping that her books will help inspire young women to pursue a career in a male-dominated industry.
Komal Singh, who is also an engineering program manager for Google, began writing the books when her young daughter made the assumption that all engineers are boys.
"Representation is monumental in catalyzing children's dreams, to dream big," explained Singh.
Her first book, "Ara the Star Engineer," was largely inspired by that exchange and challenges stereotypes in the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
"Kids of colour don't usually see themselves in books as star characters, so I wanted to change that," she said.
In Singh's second book, "Ara the Dream Innovator," readers follow Ara on her journey as the a founder of a start-up.
"She does really cool stuff and she's an innovator, and I want to be an innovator," said Singh's daughter Araiya.
Throughout the journey, Ara meets real life start-up founders of diverse backgrounds. It's representation that Komal's colleague Natacha Mainville says is still desperately needed.
"You can’t be what you can’t see, and one of the issues that I’m seeing in STEM is that young girls are not exposed to the awesome different types of careers you can have in STEM," she said.
Mainville is a senior research program manager at Google and also the mother of twin girls, who are fans of the books.
"I used to think it was a little bit more boring" said Mainville's daughter Juliana. "Then I read the book and I think it is really interesting and I think I'd really like to be an engineer."
The books are giving young women a "shero" to look up to in an industry filled with men.