I didn’t say that to grab attention – scouts honor!
LinkedIn has enabled me to make tremendous progress on my current project to chronicle the lives of the pioneering women students of my Alma mater – College of Engineering, Guindy, Chennai, India. I hope the stories will encourage more girls to study engineering & science, enter the work force and be equal partners with men in shaping the future of the world, not just in India, but across the globe. My plan is to periodically post their stories, and eventually gather them for a book. I expect there are about 30 or so such stories to write, and every day I am making a little progress.
The first batch of women to graduate from this oldest technical institute in India entered the school in 1939-1940. After I launched the project, I realized that in many cases there was not much information in public to be gathered on these early alumnae.
I am not a journalist. I am not a writer by trade. I could never have imagined what writers such as Rebecca Skloot had to do to portray “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”. But I have great appreciation now, even though what I am doing is nothing compared to something like that.
Fortunately, we live in a world now where technology is Queen! And, I am blessed with a sleuthing mindset and internet and social media search expertise. I located a few people who looked like they could be related to my subjects. And I shamelessly reached out to them on LinkedIn. My requests went like this:
“Request for help with a book on Early Indian Women Engineers from College of Engg., Guindy
I apologize for this “cold” message. I found you in a thread on Facebook, and made a bold assumption that you may be related to Ms. X. I am in the process of writing a book about the women who graduated from Guindy Engineering College in Chennai, India, and Ms. X was in the first batch. Would you be able to put me in touch with someone who can talk to me about her? By the way, here is the post on A. Lalitha, who was a classmate of Ms. X.
Please check out the Facebook page on this project:https://www.facebook.com/cegwomen/
Thank you in advance!
And I was amazed that total strangers responded very kindly, and actually connected me with family members who could give me some information about these women. I attribute this to the fact that LinkedIn is a trusted platform for professionals, and it is easy to verify who is sending you the messages.
I am glad that I am on LinkedIn with no other expectations, because I can truly appreciate what it has done for my current project! And I love it!