Inspirational stories about gender-inclusive making

Uma Reddy
Hi Tech Magnetics & Electronics Pvt Ltd, India

Uma Reddy is an Electrical Engineer by qualification. During her Internship she successfully developed electronic PCB designs and started the same as a small business venture.  After her University degree she had a choice to take up a secure job with an established company or continue with her entrepreneurial venture.  The entrepreneurial bug had already bitten her and she established her company to design and manufacture Electronic components. The highlight of her creations is custom built Transformers, Inductors, Coils etc for industry applications, defense, power and also used by Indian Space Research organization in its 9 satellites launched. 

“The passion and the fire in your belly is what makes you do what you want to do. Gender per say does not play any role”.

Uma is not only a successful entrepreneur, but also voluntarily commits her time as a social entrepreneur and mentor to several organizations that support the development of women entrepreneurs and the growth of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises. She felt a need for an association that supports the growth of women entrepreneurs in the technology sector and she founded a not-for-profit organization called eMERG, an association for women in technology, business, profession and services.  She has received recognitions and awards throughout her career including two prestigious state awards for both engineering manufacturing and social work. 

Uma was an entrepreneur at a very young age even before she knew anything about entrepreneurship or gender issues. She just had the passion and fire in her belly to do what she wanted to do. The first challenge was to get a loan to buy the basic equipment for which her family supported her with the necessary collateral. She noticed that gender issues crept in as she went along, finding the reluctance to give large orders even when the product and process is proven. Uma feels that the other gender bias is that women are not considered technical experts.

She says “I often get the question from customers whether they could speak to a technical person and I say, yes you are speaking to one”. 

She stresses that a lot more needs to be done as in the last 3 decades the proportion of women entrepreneurs has moved by hardly 5%. There is a lot more that needs to be done for women entrepreneurship to grow, especially in the maker space.

80% of Uma’s employees are women and she is a role model to each of them. She encourages them to achieve success by supporting them hands on.  As a woman she understands their need for flexibility and makes adjustments where required. She also feels that women may not need participatory support but thrive on moral support from their family, network and staff and this is where awareness has to be created. Creating the ecosystem and infrastructure for women to foray into manufacturing is necessary.

Message to her younger self:

“Focus on your goal and work towards it. Be perseverant to achieve this goal. It is possible. These are amazing times. There is a great ecosystem, there is vibrancy and a space for everybody to achieve. Especially as a manufacturer there is a huge potential. Make use of every opportunity and be successful, make it happen.”

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