Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Teen's book spotlights female leaders in tech, politics and more

A photo of teen author Maya Sharma

Photo: Maya Sharma

Maya Sharma's debut book, on sale this week, features interviews with 25 women who charted their own course to success. It's a topic she knows a lot about — she can now call herself a published author before even graduating high school.

The big picture: Sharma, the 16-year-old daughter of prominent wireless industry consultant Chetan Sharma, said the women featured in "Paving: Conversations with Incredible Women Who are Shaping Our World" all have different stories but that she hopes young girls take away one key lesson: "She did it, and so can I."

The backstory: Sharma's journey to writing "Paving" began three years ago with a single interview for her school newspaper, a chat with Mary Lou Pauly, the mayor of Issaquah, Washington.

  • Pauly is one of the women featured in the book, alongside others including Arianna Huffington, Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman, Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, whose district encompasses most of Seattle and several suburbs.

I got an early read of the book and a chance last week to talk to Sharma, who said she was particularly excited about the inauguration of Kamala Harris as vice president.

  • "My parents are Indian, so being able to see Kamala Harris, who has the same heritage I do, is very inspiring," she said.

Sharma said she was probably most nervous interviewing Janet Yellen, who was then the first female Federal Reserve chair (and this week was confirmed as President Biden's Treasury secretary).

  • "My hands were shaking," she recalls. "My voice was shaky."

Between the lines: "Paving" isn't intended to inspire girls only. Sharma said she hopes boys and adults will also get valuable advice on leadership from a wide range of perspectives.

  • "It's got a little something for everyone," she said.
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