Prof. Preeti Aghalayam is a professor of the Chemical Engineering department.
When I was recently asked to become the Chairperson of the Women’s Forum here, I admit I was taken aback. I hmmed and hawed. I appreciate the need for a forum. We are a 21st century elite educational institution where women are very much a minority. But being a chairperson? Implies having some vision; lots of ideas; some appreciation of the issues and potential solutions. Do I have it in me?
Finally I convinced myself that it was not such a stretch after all. This is a campus that I know very well. And I do feel strongly about us women in the larger scheme of things, here in IITM. Plus I always have ideas, lots of them. I have discovered that the Forum cuts across several groups – faculty, staff, and students in IIT. In every single group, we are a minority. It can be a very sobering thought.
The WF committee is just wonderful. I am, everyday, totally bowled over by the enthusiasm the women show. And everyone is so very articulate, beautiful, and the meetings are such a lot of fun. I have been taken a fair bit away from my comfort zone here, I admit, but organizing the International Women’s Day celebration this week has been really a remarkable experience for me. This is the first event from behind this steering wheel for me, and I am super excited!
A local theater troupe is bringing to us a humorous take on how we raise our sons differently from our daughters. Gnani promises me a lot of chuckles in this one! How does it feel to jump off the beaten track and write and publish that book that was in you all these years? Ex-journalist and mommy blogger Kiran Manral can tell you! “Hollaback” (NOT the song!) is a worldwide initiative aimed at putting an end to street harassment. A local NGO, Prajnya, brings you the essence of this movement in an interactive workshop, specially for students.
In addition, Dr. Malliga will talk to us about cancer awareness, and Ms. Shyamala Jayaraman will preside over the inauguration and tell us about her experience as VP at Ramco Systems. In the closing ceremony, renowned orator Mrs. Bharathi Baskar will enthrall the audience in her characteristic fiery style.
So, is this event for women only? Of course not! Women’s Day is not the day we sit around and talk about ‘women’s issues’ in hushed whispers with the doors closed and every single person inside being of the feminine gender. There are no secret rituals that will be performed condemning men or anything. Women’s day is a joyous coming-of-age celebration (at least we hope you will make it so!). Think of it as a festival – a short one – 10am-5pm on 8th March, Thursday. Come, share a few laughs, learn a thing or two about the outside world, meet a bunch of super-talented people from various walks of life, and just have fun!