It all started when Komal Singh’s 5-year-old daughter declared, "Oh mama, engineers are boys."
Singh, an Engineering Program Manager at Google Kitchener, says it was that comment that inspired her to write a children’s book, featuring female role-models in STEM. “I wanted something whimsical and relatable for kids, to bust that stereotype for her.”
The book, ‘Ara The Star Engineer,’ would become a bestseller, introducing real-life women as engineering trailblazers.
“There’s well established research that says girls start doubting their STEM intelligence as early as six years old,” said Singh. It’s referred to as a ‘STEM cliff, girls will abandon math and science in school and pursue other 'more suited' career paths.
The goal of a narrative, like Ara’s, is to get young girls more comfortable with technology and science while they're young. Singh’s book also aims to build a healthy connection between creativity and STEM.
She says she’s on a mission to inspire girls to become future leaders. In doing so, she’s caught the attention of national media outlets; including features in Globe & Mail, Forbes, Financial Post, CTV, BuzzFeed, and The Social.
“Ara The Star Engineer is a picture book that follows a young girl, along with her droid DeeDee, on a journey to the fantastical land of Innovation Plex,” says Singh. The women in the book are modeled after actual women, who are engineers at Google.
When asked who her role models are, she says, “My dad's an engineer who instilled in me a love for science and importance of integrity. My mom taught me the importance of empathy, compassion, and creativity.”
“When people read this book, I hope they have fun and they feel empowered,” she says. Last month the book was officially launched in Israel in Hebrew.
The book, aimed at children ages 5 - 9, is being translated into more than 10 languages, and is accompanied by novel immersive experiences; VR Google Expedition and support for Google Assistant's Read Along feature. It also comes with an attached notebook, and downloadable activity sheet. Singh, and her team of trailblazing women aim to both inspire and educate – creating a future of endless potential for young, gender-diverse girls.
The bestseller has been used in library book clubs and is available in schools across the country. Parisa Tabriz, a character in the book who also works at Google, said, “I hope that little girls who read this book think about engineering, computers, technology, and building things in a way that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Singh grew up in India and studied Computer Science at Delhi University, she moved to Canada to complete her Masters’ in Computer Science. She describes her role at Google as building cool products and infrastructure, impacting billions of people around the globe.
She's a globetrotter at heart and has travelled to over a dozen countries. She currently lives in Waterloo with her husband and two children.