The YWCA Silicon Valley recently recognized Afsaneh Behdad for not only her work in the field of physical verification, but also for her impact in the community – and beyond.
Behdad’s dedication to mentoring others and her work as group director at Synopsys Inc. prompted the Y to name her a 2018 Tribute to Women honoree, according to YWCA Silicon Valley CEO Tanis Crosby.
The Los Altos resident was honored April 26 at a banquet for the 52 women nominated this year.
“She really embodies significant leadership – not just in terms of her direct skill set, but also her adaptive leadership and community service and empowerment of students,” Crosby said of Behdad.
Contributing to her community, Behdad said, is “a big part of who I am.”
In 2012, she joined the U.S. State Department’s TechWomen program and mentored an emerging leader from Algeria. The initiative brings women from the Middle East, North Africa and other regions to collaborate with their Silicon Valley counterparts.
Behdad said she’s amazed by the women she met through the mentorship, many of whom come from countries that might be seen as less advanced in technology and face different societal pressures.
“Lots of these women who come either have their Ph.D.s or master’s,” she said. “That’s one thing I always take away – that they have such a strong drive in environments that are very difficult for women to be so passionate with their careers.”
Additionally, Behdad has participated in the Grace Hopper Celebration, a conference that aims to support women in technology and has convened dialogues at the Lean In Circle in Los Altos.
At home, Behdad tutors students in math – from third-grade multiplication to SAT pre-calculus. When her children attended high school, Behdad helped them and their friends with their homework. Now that her children are in college (both majoring in a math-related subject), she has more time to tutor, despite a rigorous work schedule.
“What I’m always amazed by is that we don’t have a lot of spare time, and you have these folks who are choosing to make an investment in other people’s successes,” Crosby said of Behdad’s commitment to help others.
At Synopsys, Behdad serves as group director for the research and development team, which she joined 14 years ago. Through physical verification, the team designs solutions for the complications of processing advanced integrated-circuit designs.
Behdad said she enjoys the team around her and hopes to continue working on physical verification.
“For any product in this industry, the technology hasn’t peaked and it won’t slow down; the technology keeps growing,” she said. “So as long as that’s the case, there is no slowing down for products. We have to keep up with the technology.”
Behdad earned degrees in mathematics and engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Michigan, respectively, and worked at a mix of startups and larger corporations in Silicon Valley before joining Synopsys.