Computer Scientist Lachana Hada

“I was able to decide for myself what I wanted to do”

In Germany, TUM Alumna Lachana Hada is a software engineer in a start-up. In Nepal she teaches women how to programme. In both countries she wants to prove that gender has nothing to do with what you can and cannot do.

Lachana Hada loves Computer Science. Her success is a reflection of this love. Already as a working student she programmed for the Intel Corporation and the German Aerospace Center. Today, at the TUM spin-off Laralab, the TUM Alumna develops groundbreaking software for heart surgery.

It is not always easy for the native Nepali in the rather male-dominated field of Computer Science, even in Germany. Sometimes people ask her if she is the team’s token woman. “I don’t care what people think”, she says. “If someone thinks I’m not good at my job because of my gender, then this is just another opportunity for me to prove them wrong.”

The Goal in Sight

In her home country Nepal, however, the situation for women is different. There, education is an unbearable financial burden for poor families. If girls are sent to school at all, they are lucky. Lachana Hada was very lucky. Her parents did everything to ensure that she had access to good education. She was able to study at an SOS Hermann Gmeiner school in Nepal and was such a good student that SOS decided to support her when she chose to continue her further education in Germany. In 2011 she gained her Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Jacobs University in Bremen. Subsequently, she went to Munich to study for her Master’s degree at TUM.

I studied Informatics because this knowledge allows me to help Nepal and its people.

“The potential for growth and innovation in the fields of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is virtually endless”, says Lachana Hada. “I studied Informatics because, especially in an underdeveloped country like Nepal, this knowledge allows me to make a difference and help the country and its people.”

Much More Than Informatics

In the same year of her master’s graduation, Lachana Hada launched the Coder Girls initiative in Nepal – now Impacters – together with the Women Development Society and the software company Naya Yatra. In multi-day workshops, the self-confident software engineer provides schoolgirls and students with insights into the many different areas of application of Computer Science. In the workshops they are for example working out how artificial intelligence could solve the traffic problem in Kathmandu or how it could use biometric methods to differentiate and categorise different animals. They also worked on small mini-robots that play football – a project which was finished within four days.

Lachana Hada’s mission is by no means limited to teaching young women how to write code. Her vision is not only to improve the school system in Nepal. She wants to change the entire social system. She wants to break up old gender roles and give women a completely new sense of self-worth. “I had the opportunity to align my career with my interests. I was able to decide what I wanted and what I didn’t want”, she says. “This usually does not apply to young women in Nepal. There, they are made to believe that they are better suited for housework or care taking jobs than for mathematics and engineering.” Lachana Hada firmly believes that what the young girls in her home country need is opportunity and confidence to try things out and above all role models who can show them how to free themselves from stereotypical clichés about gender roles. Here, she herself is the best example.