Meet Medha Aiyah — one of the mentors at our Women’s Leadership Summit March 8th in Nashville!

Medha Aiyah is a 20-something graduate student in Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). Her goal is to bridge the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), with a focus on computing. She created the weeklong STEM camp, EMP-WR, for girls in her hometown of Sacramento, California, earning her the coveted Girl Scouts Gold Award. 

Medha helped create the mobile STEM MakerSpace with the Central Heart of California branch of Girl Scouts. This platform has helped over 1000 girls in remote areas of the state access hands-on STEM education. Medha is also co-founder of WEHack Women Engineers Hack), the first-ever gender-based hackathon uniting women and non-binary hackers across eight countries around the globe in a supportive environment where they can build their technological skills together. 

Medha was recently recognized as a Top 50 Hacker by Major League Hacking, an organization of thousands of hackers in North America and Europe. When this Girl Scout isn’t organizing or raising funds to support women in STEM, she loves experimenting in the kitchen and hiking new trails with her friends. 

Like Deana Hyde, Dr. Teresa Vasquez and young’un Hadley Hall, Medha will be a mentor at our Women’s Leadership Summit. Together, we will teach girls the steps they can take to ensure they are #ReadyforAnyField. Enter to win Executive Access tickets to the Women’s Leadership Summit to be mentored by Medha and other game changing women — see details below to learn how — and check out our interview with her????.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do? 

MEDHA AIYAH: My name is Medha and I am currently a graduate Computer Science student specializing in Intelligence Systems at UTD. My proudest body of work is the creation of WEHack (Women Engineers Hack), the first-ever all-women/non-binary hackathon in UTD’s history. WEHack was formed to promote women hackers globally. Today, we positively impact women in eight countries. As a critical voice for girls and women, I leverage my skills and influence to break centuries-old gender stereotypes to make a difference in the tech world.

PLAG: Share a recent interaction with another woman or girl that you found inspiring. 

MA: A recent interaction that I found inspiring was when I met the President of the National Society of Women Engineers, Rachel Morford, during the WE 22 conference. I found her advice about ways to manage and balance professional growth and personal life especially inspiring. It was such an honor to talk to someone who has played a huge role in promoting women engineers and learning new ways to grow. 

PLAG: What difference would it have made for you to have had Play Like a Girl in your life as a girl or young woman?

MA: Play Like a Girl would have helped me understand the benefits sports can provide in a young woman’s academic and career pursuits. It would have also opened doors to critical mentorship from a broader, larger community of women. I believe that balance of physical and emotional well-being is very important. You have to be physically fit to think positively. In my case, the dance has helped me find balance in my own life. Through dance, I am able to unleash my inner G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader) and understand the importance of leadership, resilience, accountability, and being a team player. These skills have transformed my academic work. 

PLAG: What does “ready for any field” mean to you? 

MA: Ready for Any Field means that you are able to channel your inner G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, and leader) and apply these skills and personal traits in every aspect of life, whether being a mom, an artist, a skilled athlete, or a professional working in a STEM field.

PLAG: Why is sisterhood (or women supporting women) important to you?

MA: According to Melinda Gates, it will take 208 years to reach gender equality and women comprise 29% of the STEM workspace. From this, we can see that we form a minuscule segment of the STEM industry. It is crucial that every G.I.R.L. who is part of this segment feel a sense of belonging so her cutting-edge ideas are heard and actualized. Every woman is unique, and we need to appreciate each other’s differences to formulate world-altering products. We need to ensure that women share access to an equal playing field with men. We must have the chance for our ideas to be taken seriously, for our work to be recognized, and for our contributions and value to the workplace be reflected in our salary. Women must unite and support each other no matter the circumstance. We are not alone and, together, we can do anything.

PLAG: How does mentorship from and collaboration with other women help you grow and learn? 

MA: Mentorship from and collaboration with other women is a blessing because the feeling of sisterhood forms and the urge to support and uplift women is ignited. Working together, we can make an even greater impact towards reaching equality–perhaps sooner than estimated.

PLAG: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from a woman role model, mentor, or colleague?

MA: My mentor, Lisa Depew, always advises me to never doubt myself although I’m often the only woman in rooms filled with males who dominate my field. She stresses that though our thought processes, ideas, and actions are different, this difference is needed to further the growth of innovation in STEM. In this same spirit, I would advise girls and young women to avoid imposter syndrome and embrace a fresh perspective: Know and believe in your worth. Present your work and share your ideas confidently. 

Lisa also touts that EQ (emotional quotient) is more important than IQ (intellectual quotient). As a leader in the STEM industry, it is crucial to understand how to be a team player and ways to put yourself in the shoes of others in the effort to better understand their point of view. You can be extremely smart, but it is equally as important to be understanding and relatable.

PLAG: What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self? 

MA: Make time management a priority. With so much passion and innovation to bring to life and make a difference in my community, I must be able to plan time wisely. Juggling academics, sports, arts, and community work simultaneously is hard. Time management is very important to achieve everything, and this is something I would advise my younger self.

PLAG: What advice do you have for younger girls who want to follow in your footsteps but may be afraid to ask for help (mentorship or guidance)?

MA: Reach out for mentorship and collaboration. Express your ideas that you are passionate about, the gap that you have noticed and want to mend. Always remember that your potential mentors and guides may have also experienced a similar situation, hence they can understand your perspective. These are all foundations to put your best foot forward and achieve your dreams and goals and make an impact in the world. Start small and before you know it you will be influencing millions of lives.

Connect with Mehda on LinkedIn and join Play Like a Girl in our mission to build a diverse pipeline of women in STEM by encouraging girls that they can do anything and be #ReadyforAnyField. ⚡️


Win a chance to be mentored by game changing women in Nashville! Tell us how sport has prepared you to succeed in any field by submitting your original photos, videos or art via Instagram or Twitter using #ReadyforAnyField. No purchase necessary. Void in AK & HI and where prohibited. Open to legal residents of 48 contiguous US & DC. Starts 2/21/22; ends 2/28/22.