The work-from-home trend that the COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to has surely turned the tide in the favour of women. The flexible hours that remote working has to offer has given a chance to women to prove that they can manage their personal and professional lives perfectly well. However, what can organisations and the society collectively do to encourage women in leadership roles? On the occasion of International Women in Engineering Day, Saichithra Swaminathan, chief product officer, Matrimony.com talks to Dataquest about the importance of gender diversity, and what needs to be done to witness more women leaders in action.
DQ: What has changed for women in the field of technology
Saichithra Swaminathan: With the new advancements in technology, women get a whole lot of opportunities and scope to leverage their core strengths. Women approach problems differently, holistically considering aspects, outcomes, and activities in a given situation. This becomes handy in technology, meeting client expectations, managing critical elements of the project etc. Diversity in thought and creation will offer innovation and better problem solving. Rising technology in healthcare and education also gives additional opportunities for women to showcase their technology talents.
DQ: What can organizations do to reduce the gap and encourage women techies in leadership roles?
Saichithra Swaminathan: The percentage of women workforce when we move up in the career ladder kind of reduces compared to what we have in the mid-level or front line. There should be specific career supporting roadmaps and plans drafted to help address the challenges faced and see how to bring more diverse culture at all levels. There could be specific training needs, societal constraints so on. Identifying these and addressing would help solve the problem.
DQ: Some of the biggest challenges faced by women leaders.
Saichithra Swaminathan: Getting the right support system is key as the leadership role would be more demanding and managing work-life balance is going to be challenging at times. Taking tough decisions when there is a need, the culture of risk taking and being assertive all of these are also key.
DQ: What advice would you give to women working in STEM?
Saichithra Swaminathan: The key is about leveraging what women have already – it could be their creativity, innovation, empathy, intuition and emotional intelligence. These can help in making a difference in whatever they build.
DQ: What are companies doing to encourage women to study and pursue engineering positions?
Saichithra Swaminathan: Support for pursuing higher education in engineering and professional weekend courses while at work, financial aid for higher studies, industry-school interactions, CSR initiatives, leadership talks to inspire women students, scholarships etc all help women to pursue engineering education.