The moment I sent out a request for some point of view on ‘women in technology’, I was flooded with enthusiastic responses. These responses are voices that resonate on how women have risen up significantly, enhancing/empowering their lives and also the lives around them by virtue of being in technology or management.
As an embodiment of empathy, strength, power, and audacity, women are now identifying themselves as role models, mentors, companions, emotional coaches, and so many other mature positions to lead their counterparts to success.
This International Women’s Day 2020, which campaigns #EachforEqual let’s hear comments from ‘women in tech’, who are out there exhibiting success and motivating others:
Dr. Arati Deo, Managing Director and Lead – AI & Data Practice and Inclusion & Diversity, Accenture Advanced Technology Centers in India (ATCI).
The advances in technology are creating new opportunities for specialization for all talent, in areas such as Cloud, Data, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cybersecurity, Edge Computing, Extended Reality, Quantum Computing, etc. I think it’s a great time for women to be in technology as the pace of change is unprecedented today. With rapid innovation emerging as a key success driver across industries, there will be an immense requirement for a skilled workforce irrespective of the gender to drive tech innovation at scale. Also, the internet has democratized learning, providing people across the world who are passionate about a given area with the opportunity to continuously learn and increase their technical knowledge.
Indian women are no exception to this and can take up any field of their choice. Also, today most progressive organizations are making a conscious effort to encourage diversity at the workplace because they understand that a culture of diversity can be a competitive differentiator. I am a firm believer that women have an inherent strength to take on a role and do justice to it.
Vaishali Phatak, Global Head – Technical Learning Services & Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), Tech Mahindra
Increased inclusion leads to better innovation impacting overall employee satisfaction and engagement, which enhances business. However, the gender gap, rural-urban divide, unequal education opportunity, and social-economic factors continue to remain key reasons for the underrepresentation of women in our workforce. With an aim to become an ‘Equal Opportunity Employer’, Tech Mahindra has several initiatives towards hiring, nurturing and retaining women. We believe that technology, when combined with attributes like empathy, adaptability, multifaceted capabilities, results in the creation of innovative solutions for the betterment of society.
As women, we should push to take on more challenging roles when the opportunity arises. This will automatically drive more and more women into leadership.
Vidhya Duthaluru – Director Engineering and Global Head for Customer Obsession Engineering Team, Uber
It is an exciting time to be in tech with the way the gig economy is transforming the world with the power of the technology. Technology, as an industry, has been at the forefront of promoting gender equality when compared with other sectors. It is a proven fact that a diverse workforce drives higher strategic value, and companies have started to adopt that more strongly rather than just looking at it as a social responsibility. As an industry, we have also transformed the dialogue from diversity to inclusion. An inclusive team is a much better functioning team, and it brings a lot of value in the long run. To drive this, we need to have more women choose tech careers and pursue it with dedication. As women, we should push to take on more challenging roles when the opportunity arises. This will automatically drive more and more women into leadership.”
Moreover, initiatives like flexible working hours and an option to work from home can encourage women as well as men to maintain a work-life balance, helping to drive a longer-term commitment towards the organization.
Gauri Bajaj, Director and APAC Head for Managed Security Services, Tata Communications
At Tata Communications, diversity and inclusion are integral to the culture of the company and ensuring the progress of women remains a key priority. The company’s programs and policies are to nurture equal opportunities environment through unbiased applicant screening, allowing leaders to follow their natural leadership style, the flexibility of work hours and location to maintain a balance between personal and professional life. All this contributes to creating and sustaining a conducive work environment for employees, both women, and men, to advance and thrive in their careers.
Manisha Pathak, Head of Competency Center, Amdocs India.
The gender imbalance in the technology industry has been an ever-existing challenge for companies. While organizations have been taking crucial steps to bridge the gender diversity gaps internally, it is also essential to inspire young women to consider tech as a great career option. Women today are breaking the stereotype and effectively taking up major leadership roles in the technology industry. Companies should focus on providing leadership mentoring, personal development and networking opportunities to women employees so that they can upskill themselves and prove their real value for the organization. Moreover, initiatives like flexible working hours and an option to work from home can encourage women as well as men to maintain a work-life balance, helping to drive a longer-term commitment towards the organization. If I take myself as an example, I feel fortunate to come to my workplace every day, as I have been encouraged by my organization to take up different roles for over 20 years now. With my expertise in technology, big data analytics, and software product development, I am today managing 900 people in this domain and encourage young brains to stay motivated towards their career goals.
Danielle Royston, CEO, Optiva
As a female CEO, I know all too well the challenges women in the business world face, particularly in the technology arena. I believe that aspiring female CEOs have to break through the barriers. You cannot depend on diversity officers or efforts to solve this problem. Find a sponsor that believes in you, then set high expectations for yourself, fight for a seat at the table, and when you get there, start driving the change yourself.
Moneka Khurana, Country Head, MMA India
Women who play key roles in organizations will shape marketing technology in newer, more innovative ways. The gender gap is slowly inching to a close, and we can expect to see a future where women will have an equal share of voice in the future of branding and marketing worldwide. In 2019, 48% of CMOs hired in the US were female, and they have started to occupy erstwhile predominately male positions of CIOs, CTOs, etc. The future will see women playing a growing role in martech campaigns, driving the deployment of technology and helping enhance the consumer experience.
Right from introducing more STEM focused education to creating diversity & inclusion practices backed by regular training and mentoring programs, brands can really harness the inherent skills and intuitions of women. This will benefit everyone – individuals, organizations and the society at large.
Anupama Kadambi, CXO, GOFRUGAL
The nature of work is rapidly evolving in all aspects of organizations. Business operations are re-engineered to be more digital, resulting in continuous changes in technology. To embrace this change, women in tech are adapting faster by constantly up-skilling. Women seem to face more challenges professionally as they are stereotyped for not being career-focused, which lowers their confidence level. Celebrating success with small milestones can build huge confidence which is a good inspiration not only for ourselves but for our teams as well. In fact, we/women have the skills to be good mentors as they are good at social connectedness, willing to own & drive challenges till solution, inculcating good professional habits helping teams experience happiness and success. In my opinion, maintaining a proper work-life balance is necessary for women in any field which will help break the glass ceiling. At GOFRUGAL, we have some special initiatives to support employees who are willing to restart after a career break. The future is going be inclusive where only talent takes prominence.”
Varsha Bhambhani, Founder, School of Accelerated Learning
I’m the founder of School of Accelerated Learning, a tech school. We’re building tech-enabled industry-inspired campuses to increase career opportunities and increase wealth generation. Having worked with men over my decade long career, I’ve realised that men and women are not in a competition, instead they have their own strengths. Empathy is one such skill, that I’ve seen comes easier to women. For example, while developing DELTA – our in-house technology platform to augment learning, I’m constantly reminded of the importance of empathy-driven innovation. I’ve learned that it’s important to shed the competitiveness between genders and focus on each other’s strengths and learn to complement each other.
Kavita Viswanath, GM, JFrog in India
The footprint of women in technology has increased significantly over the last few years, thanks to the focus on D&I initiatives by organizations at large. We see women across all walks of life (age no bar), coming back into tech taking some hardcore roles that require a lot of time and skill investments such as Software Development, Data Science, UI/UX Engineer etc. JFrog India has 28% women in R&D and Support today and we continue to see an increase in profiles when we look at hiring for some of these roles. I believe the reason for this big change is that we now we have started seeing the Next Gen wave of women who are ambitious and go getters from a very early age. This drive seems to make them want to be more successful in whatever career path they choose for themselves. And of course credit also go to the liberal and supportive men in our lives for encouraging us with this -be it personal or professional.
Going forward, I also see more women leaders take centre stage in the Boardroom. This is perhaps still missing to some extent and this will be the next big change in the coming decade.
Karen Ravindranath – Director, WebNMS
Information Technology offers challenging and interesting opportunities for women. Work in IT field is predominantly gender neutral with majority of tech companies giving equal opportunities sans any gender reservations. With digitization and automation shaping the industry, and a wider adoption of technology across all industries, it could only mean a greater demand for technology affluent workers to meet the future demands. To meet the future digital demands, there are ample online courses available for the young workforce to up-skill themselves. The cloud based and streaming education platforms are a great tool that women should put to good use. Apart from online courses, various groups like Women Who Code and Women in Technology across cities are empowering women with informative offline meet ups for like-minded female techies to learn and explore opportunities for specializations, mentorship and skills enrichment
Divya Jain, Founder & CEO, Safeducate
The role of women has undergone a dramatic shift in the last 50 years. There have been significant social, political, economic and technological changes that have created opportunities for women as well as given them greater acceptance and recognition in the corporate world. Skills, knowledge, and adaptability in business are the reasons women are stepping into business ventures. In fact, women-owned businesses are increasing in the economy as their entrepreneurial potentials are finally being recognized due to the growing sensitivity towards their role and economic status in the society.
Sowmya Sriram, co-Founder & CMO, AmyGB.ai
The number of women employed in the IT industry in India has seen a rapid increase over the past 10 years, with more than 30% of employees now being female. Women in the technology industry, bring a whole new set of attributes to the table, which partly stems from the fact that we are empathic listeners. When a company needs to solve critical issues of any kind, it is the strong emotional quotient, team dynamics, and new approach to problem-solving that women bring to the forefront. We women, strongly believe that technology is an amplifier of human connectedness. We put in deep thought from a whole new perspective of actually building solutions, which appeal to the human connection. The innovative solutions and cutting-edge tools of today that transform Customer Experience could not have been conceived without the diverse thought process and viewpoints of teams with a heterogeneous composition involving women. s
Samudyata Kadur Shivaram, Associate Vice President – Digital at Maveric Systems Limited
Like any of field business, it’s imperative that we have a balanced representation of women in technology. One of the challenges women in technology face is sustaining a career and fighting archaic mindsets. With industry 4.0 and the world transitioning towards intelligent technological systems, now is the best time for a course correction by bringing in improved representation of women. This is possible to achieve only with sustained efforts, systemic overhauls of processes and mindsets. Technology can only be ethical if it is diverse in nature. This is possible if we include more women in technology and in the workplace.
In my personal experience, at STEM courses in university and post-university, the ratios are almost quite balanced but they get disproportionate as you move up the career tenure curve.
Arushi Kalsi, Founder of OverDrive
The way we talk about women in technology has certainly evolved since our inception. Our mission is as important as ever, but the discussion has become more complex. What used to involve in a discussion about getting more women to join the industry now centers on how we motivate women to stay, how corporations can evolve to attract more women to increase their talent pool, and how we can create diversified teams to transform company culture and boost annual revenue. Today, the discussion has progressed and become multi-faceted as the equality and diversity aspects have grown more intertwined with overall company strategies. I’m not saying that coding is all there is to the tech industry.
There’s an important place for non-technical skills: Expertise in online business models, digital marketing, e-commerce, new media, social media strategy, gadgets, and IT infrastructure are all very essential to the technology ecosystem.
San Banerjee, CEO & Co-founder, ADDA
The demanding work hours that don’t stick to 9-5 routine, and the responsibility of taking care of the household often keep women away from technology. With an increasing trend of both genders sharing in the household responsibilities, women are now able to take on these demanding tech roles. With apps like BigBasket, Swiggy, Licious, ADDA, etc., that help to keep all aspects of the home in one place, running the household is becoming relatively easier. The increased focus on STEM education for women over the past 2 decades has brought the Tech skills of women on par with men. Combined with flexible work hours, caregiver leaves, remote work possibilities, we hope more women will not only take on tech jobs but continue after childbirth and scale great heights!
Shweta Berry, Head of Strategic Alliances – Industry & Academia, Marcom and CSR, Aeris Communications
“From 21:79 ratio of Women : Men in tech industry five years back to 30:70 now, it seems that little has changed at the power centre of technology in India. However, in spite of so many tumultuous years of under-representation of women in the technology industry with under 11% representation of women in decision making roles; we do have positive stories on women leadership in our country. From the President of NASSCOM- Debjani Ghosh to Vanitha Narayanan- MD, IBM and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw- Chairperson and MD of Biocon, Geetha Kannan, MD of Anitab.org India; the Indian technology leadership landscape is changing. The future demands for technology-led inclusive growth and inclusiveness would mean inclusivity in terms of gender, geography and genre.
Minal Anand, Founder & CEO of GuruQ
I believe that the scope for Indian women in tech is limitless, technology has made inroads into all sectors and given birth to fintech, edutech, agritech, proptech, healthtech ventures and so on and so forth in addition to older sectors like information technology, marine technology and biotechnology to name just a few. The women of today are unstoppable, go-getters on a mission to transform the world. Women today are enjoying an equal place at the boardroom table even if this change is occurring at a gradual pace. In an age of startups, women are going forth with their vision and founding their own ventures to creative a positive impact. I will not deny that men still hold the lion’s share in the world of tech, when you consider that the percentage of women holding CEO positions in the tech world is abysmally low as compared to men, the situation may seem disheartening. But then again, aren’t we here to change it!
Payel Basu, VP, Marketing, MoveInSync.
Our society starts stereotyping women fairly early on in life. “Speak, but softly”, “Don’t be too pushy”, “Oh, you must like pink”. We need measures in place to invoke interest in STEM subjects right when girls are in school. Organisations must work closely with educational institutions to help young girls discover and nurture their love for a career in technology. At entry levels, most organisations have plastered their diversity numbers and they might look good. However, dig deeper and you see the dwindling number of women as you move up the ranks, finally leading onto a dismal representation in the broad rooms. Challenging circumstances in balancing family and career goals leads to women quitting at the peak of their careers. While organisations need to design well thought through programmes which enable a flexible, supportive environment for women leaders, the onus is also on women to pull each other up, to shout-out, support and mentor younger, promising women to stay on track. Fewer female tech leaders in the ecosystem leads to a lack of mentorship for women leaders, which is crucial when you are aiming for CXO roles.
Institutions should also come up with structured programs for women on a break, to transition back into work. Be it re-skilling, up-skilling, alignment programs or just a support group to enable networking.
Nagina Singh – Executive Director, HR, DBS Bank India
As we speak about the future of technology, closing the gender gap and implementing initiatives for the inclusion of women in the sector becomes critical. This goes beyond just recruiting women in tech-focused roles. We believe that it is important to drive a change right at the grassroots level and encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM and strengthen their skills in technology, just as much as other traditional sectors. There is a need to bring reforms across the ecosystem- reimagine skill-building, offer the right opportunities and establish a framework for all levers of inclusion.
Divanshi Gupta, Director, The Marcom Avenue
Indian women all around the world are highly competitive and follow their passion at par with the Indian men in society. But, according to research, almost 50% of the Indian women drop out of tech field at a junior to mid-level role in the company for one or the other reason, so what is the scope we think? Well, the scope of Indian women in tech is very promising if they choose to stay in the field like- Roshni Nadar Malhotra, HCL (CEO & Executive Director) or Vanitha Narayanan, IBM (Managing Director) or Upasana Taku MobiKwik (Entrepreneur) and many more, who have worked day in and day out pursuing their passion to become what they are.
Ghazal Alagh, co-Founder of Mamaearth
For years, Indian women have struggled to be treated as an equal in the tech industry. But with companies realizing the importance of gender diversity, more Indian women are taking leadership roles in technology firms. Organizations are becoming more conducive to retaining and promoting women, and the situation will only get better with time.
Neha Aggarwal, Associate Vice President & Head – CX and Automation Practice, Birlasoft
It’s a great time for women to be in technology as the pace of change is unprecedented today. For tech innovation to happen at scale, there will be an immense requirement for skilled workforce irrespective of gender. Women must ensure that they are at the forefront of this change and equip themselves with the right skills to become significant contributors towards the success of the industry.
Lakshna Jha who is the CEO and Cofounder of Sride – the carpool app
Today 99% of the women who are heading large business organizations in India are not part of the family business but have reached there based on their hard work and calibre. Looking at the change in the industry happening for the last 5 years in terms of education & perception, the percentage of businesses owned or headed by women is set to increase from 20% to over 40% very soon. It is amazing to see women heading all sorts of technology companies from Banking, BioTech, Insurance, IT, Media, FMCG.
On a personal front, I am happy that through sRide we continue to make a difference in the life of everyday commuters and this opens a wide opportunity for women travellers to network which is an important aspect in any professional’s journey. It has been an exciting journey at sRide and I strongly believe that technology is a solution to most of the daily challenges.
Sreedevi Devireddy, CEO, SR Innovation Exchange
Firstly, Indian women need to come out of super woman syndrome instead understand that professional life, personal life and self are part of life. Mentor, support, help fellow women in whatever possible way – form networks, form cohesive support groups, mentoring forums etc. This will pave way to enriching societal change.
Liz Armbruester, Senior VP – Compliance and Sponsor of Women of Avalara Global Employee Resource Group
Women are more than capable of thriving in the tech field, but many lack the support necessary to pursue the career they want. With a combination of activism, mentoring, and support more women and girls will be encouraged to seek STEM careers and improve the tech industry. That starts with all of us in every geography. It’s extremely important to build our network of mentors, sponsors, coaches, and allies to support your career aspirations and empower us to fight for equity. When we do that, we continue the shift forward, improving gender balance in the tech industry. Simultaneously, creating and cultivating an inclusive and diverse culture within our organization helps drive new opportunities to engage and develop women as they progress throughout their careers.
Rituparna Mandal, General Manager, MediaTek
Women are excelling in every sphere they step into, including technology. In fact, 99% of our women employees at MediaTek are working in the R&D department, across key technical and engineering roles. We believe equal opportunities, skill training and flexible work options can help drive inclusion for Indian women in technology, bringing a change in the society.
Divya Madaan, Associate Director, Head of Testing Services (India), Application Development, Sun Life Asia Service Centre (ASC)
Technology is gender neutral. Fintech is as lucrative in scope for women as it is for men, it is a challenging industry and carries a tremendous potential for leaders to prove their mettle (irrespective of the gender). Blockchain, robotics and AI are all set to bring disruptive changes to the financial markets and are ideal to explore growth avenues. BFSI industry itself is undergoing massive digital transformation. In today’s scenario, when organizations are widely promoting D&I initiatives, the doors leading to new opportunities in Fintech are open for women in technology. It is up to the women now to carry a positive outlook and convert the challenges into opportunities. The ball is in our court!
Shweta Aprameya, CEO, ARTH
The scope has no boundary. There is so much to create, develop and build in every business & industry. The work I do in the rural Fintech segment to deliver access to finance to rural women pushes me to think deeply about the needs and challenges of the women; things like self-confidence, basic writing names & numbers, money management in volatile family conditions; sounds like the easiest things to do. However, these are the real challenges and big bold objectives that excite me to think differently & be meaningful.
The future is buzzing with so many exciting projects to work on; from studios for community learning and working, credit models, business model development and support, etc., it is all about learning from simple things in life. Not that it was not always the case, but sometimes one makes a special effort to realize.
Nupur Khandelwal, co-Founder Navia Life Care, a health tech startup
Women represent more than 30% of tech workforce in India which is far better as compared to countries in the west: UK (18%) and US (25%). This definitely suggests optimism in the Indian tech space. Also, there are several studies that highlight the importance of gender diversity in building successful organizations. As technology continues to solve the ever-changing and challenging problems, gender diversity would definitely play a critical role in providing wider talent pool to enable better decision making. I am sure we will see higher women participation in the coming years, especially at the leadership level. The future is required to support women through initiatives, training and should address the gender gap.
Nishtha Gupta, co-Founder, Rein Games
Gender is not something that define women. I believe you can succeed at anything if you work hard and approach challenges creatively. Since most of the upcoming startups are solving key life challenges via technology, I believe tech expertise will definitely give an edge to women/all genders. Technology is the future. Even non-techies should invest in building tech knowledge so that they have a sound conversation with their technical team and motivate them properly.
Saily Lad, Director of Volksara Pvt Ltd and Krystal Group of Companies
Times have changed, and Indian women working in tech isn’t a myth anymore. The number of women in the tech industry has been increasing consistently for quite some time now. Earlier there was a stereotype against women working or even studying engineering, which mainly occurred because of families denying permission. Women are now exploring their career options in different fields of engineering and that’s only possible due to the opportunities available in the market. The IT field will never be old, there is something new always developing. This gives a good scope of growth and opportunity. Due to the exposure to safe and smart cities and the multiple opportunities available in the IT industry, a large number of MNC’s are exploring their options in India. These MNC’s are offering higher price pay and flexible work hours, motivating a lot of women to explore this field and stick around for a longer period. The opportunities are never ending, especially for women who are focusing on markets like India and other developing countries where they could be the market leaders in different avenues of the IT industry.
Katerina Folkman, Head – Analytics, Clix Capital
Women comprise one-third of Clix Analytics team, and we all certainly had our fair share of traditional stereotypes to deal with, especially in the beginning of our careers. “Oh is she is here to make the PPT or to take the meeting notes? No, she is my leading data scientist who actually developed this XGBoost model with GINI of 72%”. But Clix is a very dynamic progressive organization, so here, these legacy stereotypes only add humour to our interactions with external vendors. Honestly speaking, such stereotypes hold only until the first exchange of the arguments. In my view, it is a blessing in disguise, which makes us ladies especially thoughtful and logically strong, to shutter preconceived opinions quickly. Developing such deep thinking skills early in our careers only helps us in the long run.
Sarita Digumarti, Co-Founder & COO, Jigsaw Academy
The rise in the number of females in science colleges and IT companies is enough to prove that women also wish to be a part of the industry. The schemes, policies, and changes taken up by the companies as well as the government aim to offer women an equal chance. Also, parents continue to motivate their children to develop an interest in studying science & technology because the scope for learned professionals in the IT field is on the rise and will keep on rising. Unlike previous times when the parents did not want their daughters to study, the average admission percentage of women in engineering and science colleges is escalating quickly with the passage of time.
Yes, we have a long way to go, as many women still have to sacrifice their careers because of family responsibilities. But with the introduction of maternity leaves, flexible work hours, security, work from home, and other favorable practices that are being adopted in the majority of the companies, women can now work, build their careers, and pay attention to their familial responsibilities as well. Moreover, many companies are focusing on hiring women and aim to create a women-friendly environment so that they do not have to compromise on their careers.
Jasleen Kohli – Chief Distribution Officer – Digit Insurance
Empathy is the biggest changemaker in any field. I feel gender balance can be driven if one is empathetic to people, irrespective of their gender but respective to their circumstances in life. From an organizational policy pov, for men & women both, support during different life-stage changes, career expansions without the baggage of any breaks taken and balance-designed workspaces (seating, break-out areas, washrooms, timings & more) can be looked into.