Once perceived as a male-dominated sector, the IT industry worldwide and in India is quickly becoming an industry of choice for women.
Reportedly, India has more women STEM graduates than major economies such as the US, UK, France, or Germany. However, while gender parity is at 50:50 in STEM, female representation begins declining when it comes to actual job roles after the bullpen to the boardroom. Reports indicate that only 25% of women are in management positions and less than 1% in the C-suite. These numbers are concerning, and there is a long way to go in achieving gender equality in India’s Tech Workforce, and everyone has an equal role to play.
Why is Gender Equalization in Tech Important?
The invention of airbags in the 1950s is probably one of the perfect examples of why diversity in the workforce is essential in the fields of technology and engineering. To a largely male-dominated team, it did not occur that airbags must be designed for people of all sizes and not just the dimensions of men – posing a huge threat to women and children; perhaps a realization that would’ve been made sooner than the 21st century had women been on the same team. Our economies are driven by technology. Almost every element of a human lifestyle is powered by technology, catering to all groups of humanity – men, women and children. The technology developed by one-half of the population results in products designed primarily for that section. Solving complex issues and inventing dynamic solutions and innovations requires diverse thinking and ideas, contributed equally by both gender groups, making gender neutralism, not just a progressive act of development but a necessity for life. A report by Boston Consulting Group showed that diversity in leadership teams results in better innovation and improved financial performance.
How do we achieve Gender Neutrality in Tech?
Besides continuously encouraging and supporting young girls and women to pursue careers in STEM fields, there are many initiatives business leaders can engage in to achieve gender neutrality in the fields of technology.
Diverse Work Culture
An open culture towards diversity is directly associated with innovative performance. Diverse teams and inclusive cultures promote creative breakthroughs and lead to higher individual performance, with all employees being more engaged and motivated. Businesses must attract talent from a diverse pool, embracing different backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences to understand customers better and unlock innovation across the board.
Learning for Growth
People and culture remain fundamental pillars in the success of the company’s strategy. Business leaders must remain actively committed to promoting a shared culture of respect and equal opportunity. For instance, online soft and hard skills training sessions, imaginative rewards and benefits, tailored learning and development programs, workshops, coaching sessions, international mobility opportunities, etc., can go a long way in levelling the playing field.
From regularly reviewing selection processes for bias to ensuring that the job offers are gender-neutral, business leaders must continue to build a workplace with equal opportunities for all employees. Organizations must also closely monitor remuneration processes for gender bias. Women at workplaces can be further empowered through cross-mentoring programs. A lateral promotion opportunity is as important here, to ensure females too can expand their skill sets
Encouraging young girls to undertake careers in STEM
Starting young is essential by reaching out to young girls via campuses and schools and influencing a path of STEM that gives them endless opportunities. We recently participated in Girls in Aviation an event hosted by the Women in Aviation society in Singapore that gave us the opportunity to interact with girls aged 8-14 and show them the exciting world of Aviation and the wonderful opportunities it provides.
Women in the workforce have been bringing about tremendous changes in the workplace, breaking gender biases and stereotypes. Even though the tech industry is male-dominated, companies are slowly but surely accepting the evolving definition of gender hood. Organizations are inching forward to maintain a gender-neutral and inclusive workplace environment, by introducing various initiatives such as women empowerment, skill development, LGBTQIA+ community and their welfare, people with disabilities, and helping them blend in apart from assisting them in finding relevant opportunities. Diversity is not defined by age, gender, or position but is about celebrating different thoughts and perspectives. This has made tech organizations realize the importance of being mindful of bringing diversity in thought and perspectives at every stage in the company, right from selecting the right talent. This change echoes in the tech industry in every corner of the world. As leaders in the world of technology, we have a role to play in leveling the field for a gender-neutral technology industry and we strive to constantly uphold this at our company through women returnship program, a women in tech mentoring program, an active women’s support network across Asia Pacific and most importantly, gender neutral policies across the board.
Shalini Nair Kumar is the Deputy Centre Head, Amadeus Labs Bangalore and Head of People and Culture, India and Asia Pacific at Amadeus.. The views are the author's own.