Dalit Women in Tech: In conversation with Maya Kamble

Nov 09, 2020, 12:30 PM
When it comes to women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), the inherent gendered bias is all too evident from the start. So for a Dalit woman, the process gets that much harder, because not only is she battling gender, she is also battling caste, where her perpetrators can be from any gender. 

In the fourth episode of Caste In The USA, Thenmozhi Soundarajan talks to Maya Kamble, one of the first women to enter the technical foray in the Valley. As an Ambedkarite Buddhist, Maya discusses the systemic caste bias she faced in the workplace.

In spite of a life in the USA, bigotry found its way to her through caste dominant colleagues, which ultimately affected harmony and work productivity. Furthermore, the lack of context in this scenario for non-Indian HR personnel often meant an inability to seek protection against discrimination, even when Maya's caste was singled out through her religion or when she actually faced untouchability.

"They would think it's just a fight between brown people as caste is not a protective category in the United States. Even though the majority of workers in almost all big firms are from India, caste is still not a protective category, so there is no sensitivity around caste. People here don’t even know what caste means. A work visa also puts in a lot of barriers on what you can and cannot do," says Maya. 

Join the conversation that seeks to explore how those from marginalised castes often thrive under non-Indian managers, whereas working under Indian managers results in inherent caste bias at the workplace. 
"The biases stemming from caste are deeply internalised, which makes it difficult to change Indian colleagues unless they want to change themselves. It is also not my job to change people, my concern is how do I grow in my career and thrive, so the workaround that I found was to find a place where I have non-Indian colleagues," adds Maya.