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Women In Technology, India Is An Early Adopter

Aug 17

While sexism in the IT sector is present in developed nations like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe, many Westerners feel that it is far worse in developing nations like India. To show how wrong this assumption is and how India's IT-BPM business is working to keep women technologists in India, it is vital to emphasize the gender gap that exists in the industry.

More over 30% of IT workers in India are women, although in many Western countries, the proportion of women in this industry has either stayed the same or decreased over the past decade. According to a study by NASSCOM and the Open University in the United Kingdom, women made up 46.8% of IT and computing postgraduates in India during the 2014–2015 academic year. Compared to the United Kingdom, this is approximately twice as high.

There is increasing evidence that a more diverse workforce leads to more profitable and long-term commercial success, regardless of political affiliation. The Why Diversity Matters research by McKinsey & Company found that companies with the highest levels of gender diversity had a 15% higher chance of outperforming their national industry medians in terms of financial returns.

Also, independent of demographic variables like color or gender, businesses in the bottom quartile are statistically less likely to have above-average financial returns (that is, bottom-quartile companies are lagging rather than merely not leading). It's already crucial that the IT industry has access to a broad talent pool, but when you factor in the fact that there's global rivalry for skills in expanding areas of digital technology, it's absolutely essential.

However, in many Western nations, the number of women working in IT is falling. The Women in Tech: The Facts report from the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) shows that the percentage of American women working in the IT field has been declining over the past several years. Female representation in the workforce has dropped from 36% in 1991 to 24% in 2015. Participation rates for women in the UK are significantly lower than those for males. Between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of women working in information technology in the United Kingdom fluctuated between 16% and 18%, as reported in the yearly book Women in IT Scorecard published by the British Computing Society. The United States and the United Kingdom have been declining, whereas India has been steadily growing.


Gender parity in post-graduate education is crucial

Over a decade ago, NASSCOM, the trade body for the IT BPM sector, launched its first diversity drive when the Indian IT industry employed approximately two million people. The rapid pace of development in the business necessitated addressing issues including workforce turnover. Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and head of the organization's communications and strategy department, argues that diversifying the workforce is one technique that can help India reach its goal.

After analyzing the methods used by firms like IBM, NASSCOM created an annual diversity event where good practices in areas like flexi-working, returning to work after maternity leave, employee transportation, and general HR services education are awarded medals. During this early industrial era in India, efforts were made to close the gender gap.

The senior vice president and general manager of Manhattan Associates in India, Ushasri Tirumala, is a vocal advocate for gender equality in the IT industry. Tirumala sits on the advisory board for WIN, a diversity initiative at Manhattan Associates. She elaborated on the cultural and political factors that make engineering an attractive field of study for women in India, where she noted that women are encouraged to pursue careers in STEM fields since they are seen as a natural fit and a place where they can thrive. As the government has long encouraged women to further their education and enter the field of technology, there has been a recent surge in the number of women in India following these paths.

The percentage of Indian women pursuing a higher education in information and communication technology is thus far greater than that of women in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Over 34%, or 1.3 million people, are women who contribute to India's IT-BPM sector. While this is more than the 24% of women in India's employment, a research finds that women only make up 51% of hiring at the entry level, 25% of managers, and fewer than 1% of CEOs. That's what Tirumala says, anyhow "We now want midlife-supportive policies in order to strike a work-life balance in a corporate setting. We have a lot more women in engineering now, and it's important that they have a place at the very top."


Obligation to one's relatives

In the West, it's common knowledge that marriage and motherhood may be barriers to a woman's professional development. This is correct in India, where maternity leave has been raised from 12 to 26 weeks by the government. The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act provides for extra advantages such as daycare facilities or creches for working mothers, a nondiscriminatory performance assessment system that accounts for the employee's absence due to pregnancy, and flexible work policies.

IT service providers in India, which have been instrumental in exporting the country's software experts, are making strides toward a more equitable representation of women in management and programming roles. Announcing its iBelieve initiative, one of India's biggest IT companies, HCL Technologies, is providing a second career path for women who have taken a break from the workforce and are interested in returning to it.

Women who participate in the program get intensive instruction designed to enhance their technical and business skills, both of which are highly valued in today's labor market. The training they get, as well as how long it lasts, will depend on the individual's background and career goals. Company representatives claim that they have had an overwhelming number of applications for participation in the program; they are now screening candidates for the various courses on a self-funded basis, with the promise of a job offer from HCL upon successful completion. HCL currently provides options like flexible scheduling, on-site daycare, 'pink parking,' and working from home to enable its female workers strike a better work-life balance. The vast majority (99%) of women who take maternity leave now return to their previous jobs.

Taking care of elderly relatives and parents is also part of a responsible family life that includes young children. TCS, the most prominent IT firm in India, has a flagship program for female executives at the mid-level that challenges them to think creatively about these issues. Ritu Anand, the deputy head of global human resources at TCS, says that middle-aged Indian mothers often opt to take time off to assist their children in applying to colleges. The company is making an effort to help them by providing the option to work from home, so that they may advance in the business world while also helping their teenagers prepare for college.

Couples who both work for the same firm often find themselves traveling extensively. TCS has always encouraged its employees to bring their spouses along on business trips by either assigning them a project at their destination, or granting them time off to visit their loved ones. Anand claims that there has been a rise in requests for male guests to accompany female guests. Ten years ago, the company established a small committee to monitor the results of its diversity and inclusion policy, and since then, it has developed a mechanism for initiating conversations at all levels of the organization to provide effective solutions.

After six years of recording annual diversity awards, NASSCOM found that the number of entry-level positions for both men and women has grown, as noted by Sangeeta Gupta. However, this gap widens in the middle and upper levels of management. To combat this problem and promote positive female role models, NASSCOM has launched a number of initiatives around India.

HCL has designed programs and activities specifically for the executive level to help achieve gender parity. Executive Vice President of Enterprise Human Resources at HCL Anuradha Khosla claims that a quota of one female direct report per business line is set for each business line head and the level below them. The retention of women in senior positions and the promotion of diversity via strategic recruiting are the responsibilities of each business unit head. In order to facilitate communication between female executives and the board of directors, the company provides a networking platform for these individuals.

Connecting with other powerful women in your industry is easy with programs like Feminspiration, Women Connect, and Women Affinity Groups. The goal of ASCEND, a specialized training program for aspiring female executives, is to accelerate the advancement of women currently serving in functional leadership positions into executive-level positions. Under the terms of the scheme, ambitious women executives will be able to select the promotion they most want. To aid them in reaching their potential, upper-level executives serve as mentors. Mentors play the role of advisors, helping mentees map out a strategy for personal growth and enabling them to hone their leadership skills.

Key elements of the curriculum include leadership discussion groups, peer mentoring, experiential learning, networking events, and self-paced learning modules. HCL reports that 96 percent of the female executives who participated in the program are still in their previous roles. HCL's diversity strategies foster an accepting environment by providing seminars and leadership training to help employees become aware of their own implicit biases and actions. The top brass are given resources to help them overcome these biases.

As time goes on, these procedures are handed down through upper management. The company invests in the advancement of its female executives by requiring them to participate in all necessary professional development activities, including but not limited to client presentations, business reviews, and senior leadership assessments. At their annual Driving Talent Summit, HCL recognizes its female workers who have gotten two positive ratings by compiling a Why Not? list of these women. HCL wishes to be considered for future growth opportunities.

As shown by the data on mentorship, female respondents are more likely than male respondents to view others as having a significant impact on their professional development. When asked what factors most influenced their professional success, women were more likely than men to choose their immediate or former bosses. Men benefited more from reading books and articles than women did (66.3 percent ).

Women are also more likely to join professional groups outside of the workplace and seek out mentoring. More women (43%) than men (34.4%) said they credit their professional networks with helping them advance in their careers. Women were more likely than men to say that diversity programs helped their careers (13.9 percent vs 6.4%). Black/African Americans (21.8%) and Latinos/Hispanics (16.5%) were the most likely to find these initiatives helpful.


Ahead, in the years to come

Middle-class Indians still pressure their children to choose STEM disciplines like engineering and science. Careers in engineering are in high demand. As the Indian market develops, so will the opportunities available to those with these skillsets, just as was previously the case in the West.

However, until this change occurs, India will remain a leading producer of women in STEM fields. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Digital India initiative, launched in 2015, has raised the visibility of STEM fields, especially in smaller cities and towns. Tier 3, 4, and 5 Indian cities are proven to be an excellent source of engineering capabilities since state television has sparked an enormous interest in STEM issues among Indian students in regions where there is no Wi-Fi.

Even India acknowledges that it has a long way to go in combating racism, casteism, sexual orientation discrimination, and disability discrimination in the workplace. Moreover, there should be more women in top positions in Indian IT companies, and sexism in the venture capital culture should be eliminated both in India and globally.

But it's remarkable to see how India and its large software corporations have put a premium on hiring women, leading the West in gender parity among college graduates. India's ambition to increase workplace diversity in the next decade may allow the country to catch up to the West in terms of creating a more diverse pipeline of future leaders.