Unlike the days of yore, women are no longer associated with only household chores. Along with successfully managing duties at home and their families, women are now being looked at as the superpowers that can become key pillars of transformation especially in the Indian tech industry. Despite gender inequality and barriers raised by the society, not only have women managed to thrive but several have made it to leadership roles in the technology industry as well. One such woman, who deserves to be celebrated, is Seema Ambastha, SVP – India and Global Business– NTT Com – Netmagic. She talks to DataQuest about some of biases that still exist, how women can tackle that and make themselves valuable, and much more.
What has changed for women in the Indian tech industry over the years?
Despite the technological disruption over the past few years, there is still some amount of gender inequality in the Indian tech industry. Technological advancements are paving the path for newer and better career opportunities. However, the representation of women in this domain continues to remain dismal. Statistics from Belong.com indicate that the Indian technology industry holds merely 26% women in engineering roles, while overall representation remains at 34%.
Research indicates that having more female workers fosters innovation, creativity, and productivity in teams to derive more revenue. Despite these statistics, we are witnessing a gradual change in perception towards women in the tech domain. They are proving their mettle in the field and emerging at par with their male counterparts. The need of the hour is to start encouraging more women to take on roles in the tech domain and inculcate a sense of self-belief in them.
How companies can eliminate gender discrimination?
Women have transcended from the “traditional” roles they were expected to play. On the professional front, many are breaking ground and achieving success in the roles and responsibilities they assume. This is further aided by organizations where work-life balance is given importance and there are conducive policies for women including the possibility of flexible working hours. However, we are still a long distance away from “equal” opportunities for women. There is a mental barrier induced by male colleagues which has detrimental effects on the potential of women employees. This eventually discourages many from continuing in the sector and they feel demotivated. These barriers must be broken and not crossed. Women must therefore believe that they are their own primary source of motivation.
Women are increasingly beginning to associate themselves with tech companies, but the number still remains lower in comparison to men. Despite the tribulations, it is their confidence and self-belief that can help them tackle the gender inequalities/differences and establish themselves in the higher rung of the technological industry. Several women in top leadership positions have been at the thick of the action and made a name for themselves while challenging the status quo during worse times. We need to first ponder upon the dearth of women representation and create effective recruitment and retention strategies to rectify the situation. We have stepped into an era of liberty, justice, and feminism; the Indian technological realm won’t be immune to change for the better.
Collective efforts that need to be taken by women and companies?
Technological companies and industry players can lead the change in improving this scenario. Another study by Belong.com also revealed that the major dip in numbers begins after the first five years of experience; the same time when women often take a break to start a family, and do not opt to return to their companies. Paid maternity leaves have already been implemented to retain women employees. In addition to this, there is a need to resolve the other problems of inequality. We need to see sincere efforts being made towards offering HR policies on conveyance, flexi-hours, work-from-home, parental leave, anti-harassment policies, and healthcare can together lead to a substantial rise in female employee retention. With men taking equal share of responsibilities on the home front, we can look at a scenario where women contribute on the professional front in an equally capable manner.
How can women utilize their maternity leaves to stay up-to-date?
First and foremost it is important to ensure that you do not become redundant in your field of work. Women should continue to upgrade their skills and learn with each day. The time they get during maternity breaks can be used skillfully to improve on several aspects professionally. Several companies today offer remote and flexible working options, and women can use this to their advantage.
Companies on the other hand can focus on encouraging women through workshops, programmes, and learning facilities to understand the concepts of new technology. This will help in the development of both skills and perspective. The programmes can encourage the participation of parents and other family members, which may induce familial support to enter the tech industry – a vital stepping stone for aspirants.
In addition, internships for women can be of immense help in creating an encouraging atmosphere of on-the-job learning which can catapult and motivate increased women employment in the industry. Such solutions will also induce a ripple effect in inspiring growth in other industries as well.