Gayatri Buragohain is the founder of a non-profit organization called Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT) and a start-up website development company, Joint Leap Technologies, (JLT) both based in New Delhi, India. She is also the ACM-W Ambassador in India, and gave a talk on "The Way Forward—What We Can Do in India" at the January 2010 ACM India Council launch event in Bangalore.
Growing up in a middle class family in a remote part of India, Gayatri has seen up close the various challenges woman there face from childhood on. Instead of giving up, she was more inspired by them to work for women's rights.
After graduating with a B.E. in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering from Gauhati University in Assam in 2003, Gayatri moved to New Delhi and started working for a women's rights organization, CREA, as the technical support and website administrator. It was during this time that she conceived the idea of an organization empowering women to learn, use, and create technology, breaking the stereotype that women cannot be adept at these things. She became involved in some women empowerment programs and also had the opportunity to interact with women working in many non-governmental organizations (NGOs). She realized that there is a huge gap between the women empowerment movement and technology, with efforts aimed at empowering women proving inadequate more often than not.
Gayatri started FAT in 2007 as a voluntary group, and it was registered as a nonprofit organization in July 2008. FAT works to empower women by enhancing women's awareness, interest and participation in technology. "We work towards this by breaking societal stereotypes and attitudes, encouraging and enabling women to feel capable and comfortable in working with technology, and collaborating with other women's organizations to enhance their work by using technology," she says. Gayatri co-founded Joint Leap Technologies in May 2009. JLT works closely with FAT to provide quality web technology advice and consulting to nonprofits and also is the primary donor for FAT.
FAT currently has three active programs:
- Workshops for Women by Women (WWW) on useful technical skills. "We believe an all-women environment facilitates better interaction and active participation as well as inspires the participants," says Gayatri.
- Tech Education Centre for underprivileged girls to provide them with tech skills for improved livelihood options. The centre is to be launched on March 13, 2010.
- We, Women in Technology Campaign (WEWIT), a campaign aimed at promoting successful Indian women working in technical fields.
Besides these roles, Gayatri is a single mother of two. "It is very stressful to balance work and personal responsibilities, but I enjoy my work a lot. I have a small but very efficient all-women team. We believe that together, we can create an example of a successful tech team and show the world that women are not just good in computing, but also can manage a business and contribute toward a social cause!"
Gayatri is the recipient of the 2010 Change Agent Award from the Anita Borg Institute. Read her interview.
Feminist Approaches to Technology (FAT) and
Joint Leap Technologies (JLT)