Article: Breaking Barriers: Empowering women in the tech industry

Employee Relations

Breaking Barriers: Empowering women in the tech industry

Despite progress, the tech industry continues to grapple with gender equality, particularly in Indian tech workforce and senior leadership positions.
Breaking Barriers: Empowering women in the tech industry

In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology, diversity and inclusivity have emerged as crucial pillars for progress. Despite notable advancements, the journey towards gender equality in the tech industry is far from complete. According to the NASSCOM survey conducted in 2020, women accounted for only 36% of the Indian technology workforce, showcasing both the strides made and the hurdles that persist.

While significant strides have been taken to bridge the gender gap and elevate women in executive roles, it is imperative that we confront the remaining challenges head-on. As leaders and employers, it is our responsibility to recognize and address the unique obstacles faced by women, fostering an environment where they can thrive and contribute their full potential.

Dwindling gender representation across levels

Despite the significant pool of talented women graduating in STEM fields, the representation of women at senior levels in the technology sector remains alarmingly low. While the entry-level and mid-level positions show a somewhat balanced gender ratio, with three women for every ten employees, the scenario changes drastically in leadership roles, where the number dwindles to just one woman among a team of ten. This raises a pressing question: What drives women to exit the workforce in such substantial numbers?

The answer may lie outside of the organisation, in the prevailing social constructs of the country. Women are still primarily viewed as caregivers, and their career growth often coincides with personal milestones such as marriage, childbirth, or caring for elderly parents. Many women feel overwhelmed by the competing demands of work and family, leading them to resign. As an experienced professional, I have seen countless women leave their jobs due to relocation requirements or a lack of support systems for caring for young children or elderly parents.

A question of flexibility

As responsible employers committed to nurturing a supportive work culture, it's crucial that we address this issue with urgency. From my experience, most women require some flexibility and support from their employers to balance their personal and professional responsibilities. Offering the freedom to work from home or take a sabbatical to attend to personal needs can go a long way in retaining them. The pandemic has shown that remote work doesn't negatively impact productivity or profitability. In fact, not having to commute can increase motivation and improve performance. In a post-pandemic world, hybrid work models, remote work options, sabbaticals, and even relocation (where feasible) should be the norm for all employees, regardless of gender, seniority, or tenure in the company. As employers, we must strive to create an inclusive and supportive workplace that enables all employees to succeed.

 A way back into the workforce

While it's important to respect women's individual choices, we must also make it easier for those who take a break from their jobs to return to the workforce when they're ready. That's why internship programs, return-to-work initiatives, and upskilling opportunities are crucial to helping bring women back into the industry. By retaining talented and experienced women and encouraging those who left to come back, we can improve gender representation at all levels. Additionally, offering equal pay, mentorship programs, and training opportunities can help close the gender gap in senior and leadership positions.

A bias-free culture

Overcoming bias is a challenging task as it can be insidious and unconscious. To address this issue, sensitisation trainings and awareness programmes are critical for making progress. At the same time, organisations must take proactive steps such as implementing gender-neutral job descriptions, having diverse hiring panels, and promoting gender representation. However, merit must ultimately win in the decision-making process. The conversation about diversity needs to go beyond ticking the boxes and instead focus on creating a safe and supportive workplace culture that is truly equitable and inclusive. As industry leaders, we must strive to understand the unique challenges women face and create a work culture that truly supports them. This is an ongoing endeavour that must continuously evolve and grow. By doing so, we can bring more women into the workforce, retain them, and help them grow in their careers. Together, let's make our workplaces more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.


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Topics: Employee Relations, #SheMatters

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