Unlimit

Perception Must Change to Women Being Pillars of Tech Industry: Bijal Parekh, Unlimit

Bijal Parekh, Head, Technology Planning/R&D, Unlimit, talks about how things have changed for women in the technology industry and what more needs to be done

Every woman, who belongs to this epoch especially, is a multi-tasker. From being a wife, to a mother, to a daughter and daughter-in-law, a woman serves several roles in her lifetime. In addition to that, with the changing times, women have also made it to leadership roles and principally in the technology industry. In spite of that, there exists even today, gender biases in the industry against women. And as Hillary Clinton rightly said, “women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world”. Nevertheless, leaders like Bijal Parekh, Head, Technology Planning/R&D, Unlimit, by sheer determination and hard work have become successful, and in an interview with DataQuest, she draws a picture of what has changed for women in the tech industry, and what more needs to be done.

Excerpts

Perception towards Women in Tech Industry

The perception towards women in tech should be transformed to “women being the pillars of the tech industry.” The number of women directly entering the software development, tech planning and even machine learning has drastically grown over the years. However, on the other hand participation in public speaking forums and mentoring is far weaker. Over the years, I have had to constantly push limits and go beyond boundaries to make my mark in the tech world. I believe that is what is required for women to be more visible in the technology realm.

As seen nowadays, several companies are proactively putting in efforts and working towards bridging this gap. However, there are bias as well as cultural factors which have been ingrained since a long time into the psyche of Indian minds; that needs to change or unlearn.

Steps Companies Must Take to Eliminate Gender Discrimination does

The companies need to make sure that they have policies which support work-personal balance; flexible working hours, work from home, 5 – day working per week, mentoring programs and health programs. I propagate to give this flexibility to both men and women – so that we avoid gender discrimination and not shoulder the responsibilities only on women just because they have a flexible schedule. Counselling to manage work priorities so that the quadrants of important and urgent can be balanced.

There is also a cultural drawback that Indian women face. When women do earn a living through their career, their income is often discounted as non-essential. Many households have an unspoken rule that women cannot earn more than their husbands, a disparity reinforced by the fact that Indian women make nearly 29 percent less than their male counterparts in tech. Companies need to encourage women to take up more responsibilities at work and highlight their achievements so they can be self-assured.

How Women Can Stay Relevant Despite Maternity Leaves

Anybody – be it men or women, if they will remain out of touch from the skillset will become outdated – It is not because you took a professional break or leaves. It is the responsibility of men and women to brush their skillsets occasionally and stay on top of the game. I would recommend that the companies offer part time courses that women can take online when on a break, so that they are in touch the latest developments pertaining to their respective industries or sectors, when they decide to resume work. This will also build the work force skills for the employer and create a bond between the employee and employer for the women to come back to work. Brush your skillset academically or by taking up voluntary projects, stay in touch with the team and with the management if you want work at the same place.

Some Gender Inclusive Policies at Unlimit

Some of the policies are POSH for all, maternity as well as paternity Leaves and Equal Employment Opportunities.

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