Behind every successful man, there is a woman – this is a saying that almost all of us have grown up hearing. While the saying might have made some women proud, some could not help but wonder why this saying wasn’t the other way round? Why don’t we see more women in leadership roles? Why does this battle of perception arise when it comes to handing over high posts to women in technology as well as other fields?
Also, according to a recent survey conducted by HackerEarth titled “Women in Technology in 2018: Breaking Gender Barriers”, only 2% of women are promoted to lead tech teams. The report states that only one-third of all tech teams are comprised of women and almost 86% of the survey respondents have a degree in Computer Science. Despite a lot of graduates in the tech domain, only 2% of women reach the top roles.
However, with the changing times, a lot has changed for women as well. Issues like gender discrimination are being actively addressed and a lot of women have made strides and are making a mark across verticals in every field. Nonetheless Ms Pooja Gulrajani, CTO 91springboard, feels that this has become possible due to the sheer determination of women.
“Frankly speaking, the perception hasn’t changed as much as it should have over the last two decades, but the sheer determination and will have led women to make headway. Women are still not always considered ideal tech candidate, particularly in India, but the sheer determination is making them visible,” said Ms Gulrajani, in an interview with DataQuest.
One of the reasons for women not being considered for leadership roles is because of the fact that they have added personal responsibilities. “Companies are part of society. As a society we should first recognize and develop the deep concern that the unique skill and leadership that women bring is a huge untapped potential. There are several studies and surveys to establish that more diverse organizations are not only better places to work, but also more successful,” says Ms Gulrajani, when asked on what companies must do to ensure elimination of gender discrimination.
“Like women in Sports / Olympics, when they go through maternity leaves, the entire fan base, sports critics, the economic institution around them, yearns for the comeback, and gets into the countdown. Same mindset and atmosphere should be embedded in companies. The focus should be on return of the talent that will itself lead to ways and actions to support and create infrastructure around it,” adds Ms Gulrajani, and rightly so.
Another problem that women face is when they invariably have to take breaks and maternity leaves, some of which extends for years. Therefore, when they decide to make a comeback, they are considered invaluable or outdated. Ms Gulrajani, however, does not agree that a few months break can make a woman unsuitable for hiring.
“First we need to recognize that a few months or a year off, can’t take away years of perseverance, experience, and acquired skills. Some industry fundamentals don’t change. When a male senior leader goes on a sabbatical, we don’t have the concern that they will be outdated when they get back. Even men should be supported to take longer leaves, paternity, or otherwise, looking at the environment where they work under so much pressure,” states Ms Gulrajani.
She also advises women to enjoy their maternity breaks as it is required for it does not take away from their leadership skills. “A few months here and there for senior leaders can’t take away the technical, leadership skills or their earned hardwork. I would really advise them to enjoy their break, motherhood, family or personal breaks, and joys of it, without any fear or pressure of losing out. Acquired skills through your hard work will always be yours,” says Ms Gulrajani in conclusion.