The world is teeming with remarkable and varied women, representing half of the global population. Their distinct experiences and perspectives make their leadership and decision-making involvement absolutely vital.
It's not just about fairness; it's a fundamental driver of economic prosperity.
Extensive research consistently reveals that companies with diverse workforces outshine their homogeneous counterparts. Thus, nurturing gender diversity in the tech industry is not only crucial for fostering innovation but also for sustaining global competitiveness.
The weight of unrealistic expectations
Women face distinct expectations when it comes to caregiving responsibilities, such as taking care of children and elderly family members, as well as managing household tasks. Unfortunately, these expectations often differ significantly from those placed on men. While women are expected to shoulder the majority, if not all, of these responsibilities, men are rarely held to the same standards.
To compound matters, there exists an idealised image of the "perfect woman" who successfully juggles multiple roles—a dedicated professional, a nurturing mother, a caring daughter and daughter-in-law, and a supportive wife. Trying to live up to this image without sufficient role models who have paved alternative paths leaves many women feeling overwhelmed and lacking support.
Consequently, a vicious cycle emerges where a lack of support inhibits women in tech from reaching leadership positions. This cycle must be urgently addressed, as the absence of female perspectives deprives organizations of valuable insights, perpetuates inequality, and exacerbates skills gaps—all of which negatively impact organizational performance.
Challenging gender bias and stereotypes
Many women in tech report feeling the need to exert extra effort to prove themselves or combat pervasive stereotypes and prejudices. For instance, they may be unfairly perceived as less technically competent than their male counterparts, despite possessing the same level of expertise.
Tech companies can take proactive steps to address this issue by implementing awareness programs and providing training for employees to recognize and counteract gender bias and stereotypes. Additionally, using gender-neutral language in job descriptions and performance evaluations can help eliminate such biases.
Confronting Impostor Syndrome
Impostor syndrome is a common experience among women in the tech industry, where they may constantly doubt their abilities or feel like they don't belong. This feeling is often exacerbated by gender bias and industry stereotypes, leading to a lack of confidence.
To address this, companies can offer training and support programs aimed at helping women develop self-confidence and overcome self-doubt. Mentoring initiatives, coaching sessions, and professional development opportunities are effective tools for empowering women to flourish. Furthermore, highlighting the achievements of successful women in the industry can play a crucial role in combatting feelings of impostor syndrome.
Achieving gender equality in the technology industry is not solely about achieving equal representation of men and women in every department. True gender equality empowers women in tech to make their own career choices, ensures equal pay regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation, and provides equal opportunities for growth and advancement within organisations.
The growing involvement of women in STEM subjects reveals a positive trend. In India, women are overcoming obstacles and showcasing exceptional achievements in various STEM fields. They are not only actively employed in these sectors but also assuming leadership roles in significant corporations.
Such progress is the result of the unwavering determination and hard work of these exceptional women, coupled with positive changes in workplace policies and increased investment in training and equipping them with cutting-edge technologies like AI and ML.
The IT industry, once predominantly male-dominated in India, has become the most sought-after career option for women. In fact, the number of women enrolling in B-Tech courses across various tech institutes has doubled. According to the Ministry of Education, the percentage rose from 8 to 19.72 between 2016 and 2021.
Additionally, there are more Indian female graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at the tertiary level than in developed nations like the US, UK, Germany, and France. However, there remains a disparity in the number of women in tech leadership positions, a shortage of role models, and a scarcity of tech startups run by women. These are areas that demand our attention and concerted efforts to bring about lasting change.
Authored by Prerna Kalra, CEO, Daalchini Technologies
Suggested reading: Divya Jain's Ed-Tech Platform Addresses Unemployment Among Youth