The past decade has seen an increase in women’s participation in the information technology (IT) industry. Women make up 35% of India’s tech industry, according to NASSCOM’s “India’s Tech Industry: Women For The Techade” report. It is also interesting to add that 30% of engineering students are girls. This number is the highest in the world and higher than countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France, according to All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE).
Although these numbers are growing, we still have a long way to go as gender equality in the tech industry remains an unsolved enigma. Despite the focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in recent years, women’s participation in technology is still not ideal. Even though there is a pool of talented women available to fill leadership positions, the label of “women in tech” underscores the fact that the gender disparity persists.
To identify the gaps and understand what steps could be taken to strengthen the representation of women in tech, a panel discussion was organized on the theme “Building stronger female leadership roles in tech” at His history Women in Mission Summit featuring Abhilasha Purwar, Founder and CEO, Blue Sky Analytics; Megha Gambhir, Founder and CEO, Stupa Sports Analytics; and Madhurima Agarwal, Director of Engineering Programs and Leader, NetApp Excellerator.
Women bring empathy to the table
Even though women are slowly making their way into technology, what really gives them the edge in a corporate environment? What differentiates them from their male counterparts? “I noticed that women are more creative, constructive, compassionate and focused,” Megha said. She added that this inherited nature helps them become better leaders and also helps an organization scale faster.
For Madhurima, the edge is empathy. Besides the usual qualities, what sets a woman apart is the empathy she brings to the table, especially when she is in a leadership position. “Having empathy can work wonders for business performance,” she added.
Breaking the myths about technology
Megha and Abhilasha shared that their technical teams are still looking for a female employee – a search that did not yield satisfactory results. One reason for this is the misconception most have about technology. Abhilasha explained that there are various incorrect stories about dry or boring technology.
Madhurima added that the technology is actually exciting. “The influence of technology on daily life is enormous. But the number of women entering the field is changing and today we have many female role models, including members of this panel,” she said. said, citing the active dialogue taking place around the world about how women can contribute to the world of technology.
Megha revealed that while those close to her were supportive, she experienced prejudice within her own team. She noted that there was discomfort in accepting a woman as a manager. These continued to create problems for her and she did her best to resolve them by talking to her subordinates. “But it requires a change of mentality,” she added.
On top of that, Abhilasha said a lot of these biases are internal. Sharing her own anecdote, she mentioned that upon discovering that one of her professors was a top economics professor, she felt unsure of herself. But the teacher instilled confidence in her, and she passed her class, mostly because someone told her she could.
For Madhurima, it’s all about good intentions. She noted that organizations need to minimize opportunities for bias. “Can we make CVs neutral? she wondered, adding that unconscious biases are much more prevalent. “On interview panels, let’s ensure that there is equal gender representation. It makes the candidate more comfortable,” she added. Once a company hires women, it is essential to focus on developing its employees by providing them with additional support. Women should be respected for the work they do and therefore opportunities should be presented according to their caliber. “Treating someone based on their accomplishments and having equal benchmarks,” she said.
Flexibility will bring more women to work
Answering the age-old question of “how can we get women to work?” Abhilasha noted that while several tech startups consider hiring women, they generally prefer to work in large organizations as startups are considered high risk.
Megha believes that relatives and friends play a key role in encouraging women to choose a job. Since the tech field is commonly associated with a misconception of being a space where people work long hours, relatives typically push women into “flex jobs” so they can manage both the house and the children.
But is the current situation of hybrid work pushing more women into work? Madhurima says flexibility and hybrid working will definitely bring more mothers into the workforce. “If you have to leave your child at home and go to work, there’s a tendency for a parent to have to stay home and women often do that,” she explained.
Never lose your identity
“Tech is trying to do something for the first time. You may hit a wall and you have to be vulnerable,” she said, adding that the tech sector has more remote jobs than any other sector.
For Megha, it’s about taking risks based on your intuition. She added that women should never lose their identity and opt for things that really make them happy.
“There are enough good people who are ready to help you when you ask for help. Asking for help should not be considered a weakness,” said Madhurima, adding that if women find someone who believes in them more than themselves, it is a treasure that will serve them in the long run. .
Many thanks to the sponsors of the Women on Mission Summit 2022, an initiative of HerStory, YourStory – BYJU’S, Presenting Partner, and other sponsors – Kyndryl, Sequoia Spark, Zilingo, Atlassian, Akamai, Freshworks for Startups and Netapp Excellerator.