My Winthrop Experience

Name: Zainab Ghadiyali
Residence: San Francisco, California
Degree: B.S., Chemistry
Occupation: Product Manager at Airbnb

Zainab Ghadiyali '09 is helping break down the stereotype that engineering is a man's world. 

"You can be an engineer at any age with any background; all that matters is that you enjoy building," said Ghadiyali, who partnered with fellow software engineer Erin Summers to create wogrammer, a non-profit that highlights the technical accomplishments of women in engineering. Ghadiyali and Summers also conduct workshops across the U.S. to encourage young women to pursue their passion for engineering. Ghadiyali also works as a product manager at Airbnb.

Their work has earned high accolades: Foreign Policy Magazine named Ghadiyali and Summers among the top 100 Global Thinkers of 2015. 

"We want to break the stereotype of what it means to be a female engineer," explained Ghadiyali. The Mumbai native, who earned her B.S. in chemistry at Winthrop, came to that realization after switching careers. She worked in public health and started to pursue a Ph.D. in health economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, then changed course after participating in — and winning — an on-campus hackathon competition hosted by Facebook. Ghadiyali switched to UWM's Industrial Engineering and Computer Science graduate programs, immersed herself in the world of engineering and discovered her true passion.

The San Francisco resident noted that her time at Winthrop opened up a world of research opportunities as well as opportunities for personal growth. "Working within a liberal arts culture gave me exposure to do many different things," said Ghadiyali. She participated in alternative spring break trips, worked with Winthrop's Office of Nationally Competitive Awards (ONCA) and completed research abroad in Germany between her junior and senior years. The support she received, added Ghadiyali, made Winthrop feel like "a second home."

Ghadiyali's Winthrop experience also gave her the confidence necessary to discover her own career path. Now, in sharing the success stories of other female engineers, she's encouraging young women to follow their passions and their career paths.

"Don't fall into 'group think' — think for yourself, be confident and believe in yourself," Ghadiyali advised. "You can do anything you set your mind to do."

Ghadiyali was the recipient of Winthrop's 2017 Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

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