Caterpillar Product Service Engineer Paroma Banerjee grew up surrounded by scientists. When she was a little girl, her parents encouraged her to explore and pursue a variety of interests. She liked art and fashion like her girlfriends, but what she really wanted was to build things. That interest and the support of her family led Paroma to Purdue University where she earned a degree in engineering and later a job at Caterpillar. During her 13-year career, she’s become accustomed to being the lone female sitting at the conference table or working in the field, but she says the future worksite will look different.
“I am beginning to see more women in the engineering career pipeline, and it’s exciting to meet the talent that’s coming,” says Banerjee. “There are more doors opening for women in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and we need to do all we can to encourage girls to engage in those areas at an early age.”
That’s exactly what start-up company Princess Awesome is hoping to achieve. The girl’s clothing company, headquartered in Washington, DC, is designed to encourage young women to express themselves through their clothing – embracing both the frilly and the functional.
“We wanted to create and sell dresses that displayed patterns typically associated with boys; things like, dinosaurs, firetrucks, and dump trucks,” says Rebecca Melsky, Princess Awesome co-founder. “We started by sewing a few dresses in our basements and then selling them at local Christmas bazaars. Our designs have become so popular that we’ve grown to a million-dollar business with manufacturing facilities around the world.”
Melsky and her partner Eva St. Clair want to set an example for their own daughters and debunk traditional stereotypes.
“It’s crucial that girls have access to clothes that tell them that they can be anything, and do anything,” says St. Clair. “If you've ever met a little girl, you know she already knows this is true, but we want to reinforce that confidence as she grows up.”
As we continue to celebrate women in 2019, watch how Princess Awesome is designing clothing to promote originality, independence and the next generation of leaders.