Last year, when Kate Brodock, CEO and founder of Women 2.0, pointed out that one of the key problems faced in the new tech industry the world over was that it was dominated by ‘white men’. Lack of racial, cultural diversity and most importantly, lack of gender equality was shaping the internet in a skewed manner.
The scant number of women in new tech, especially in the areas of data science, analytics, and artificial intelligence has been a worrying trend in India as well. The resultant sexism is increasingly becoming one of the side-effects, making the global protests for gender equality so much more necessary.
Anuradha Sharma, chief operating officer at Scienaptic says, “There is a very prominent male culture in programming and that kind of makes women less visible in data science and analytics field… Women in analytics are hidden, they are doing all the good work, but they are not asserting themselves. I know enough number of women in analytics, who are doing great work but they are not visible.”
Clearly one of the key problems which lies at the bottom of this predicament is the fact that only about 12 to 15 percent of the engineers who are building the internet and its software are women. Therefore only 7 percent of partners at top 100 venture capital firms are women. These numbers are even more abysmal for the Indian new tech sector.
Deepa Madhavan, director, Enterprise Data Services at PayPal told Analytics India Magazine, “We cannot dispute the gender imbalance in the technology field. Even though women choose the field of technology as a career option, the attrition rate at the mid-management and senior levels is high due to both professional and personal pressures. This attrition can lead to disinterest among women towards a career in the field of technology.”
Heather Avery, vice president, Customer Strategy and Analytics at AFLAC added that cultural norms also played a part in the same. She explained, “There are some sort of conflicts in cultural norms out there and that is what is holding women back. We have cultural expectations and perception of what women should be and what women should do, but I think women need to decide for themselves and not let society dictate their career paths.”
As a career in the new tech sector can be demanding, women may struggle to maintain that work-life balance, says Pooja Sharma, senior data analyst at ZAPR Media Labs. “The challenge here is that women are hesitant to enter into certain important roles even if they are 100 percent qualified — even over-qualified. Because of this, they take lesser risks and hence we end up having fewer women leaders in the senior management,” she said.
There’s clearly room for improvement in education as well as work culture. Mangala Seshadri, vice president, Analytics at SAP India told Analytics India Magazine that women need to see more role models in this field and be aware of their success stories. “Given that there are very few women in leadership roles in these domains, it is not seen as a natural career choice for many… The need of the hour is to incorporate next gen technology topics into our education curriculum. In addition, we must also create awareness and curiosity for new tech jobs by branding and marketing them as exciting career opportunities for women. We must also enable women gain more exposure to these domains by creating small projects that they can work on to get some hands-on experience,” she added.
Ankita Gautam of Qubole adds, “As with education and career choices early on, I feel it is really important is to completely obliterate the notion that a certain line of studies or profession is cut out for a given gender… We shouldn’t just talk about it, we need to demonstrate the same in our actions.”
But there are some leaders who believe that women can still take charge of their own careers and make sure that they succeed. Aruna Jayanthi, CEO of Business Services at Capgemini Group had famously said, “There is no glass ceiling. It is a myth. If it exists, it is in your head. I have worked in the IT industry for the last 27 years, and I know it doesn’t exist. Our growth rates are so high, our industry is so hungry for talent, why would there be any discrimination? Get over this.”
Analytics India Magazine in partnership with Jigsaw Academy is offering 100 percent scholarships to three deserving women applicants in March 2018. This scholarship is applicable for any of the Jigsaw Academy courses and full stack programs such as Data Science and Big Data, available on the website. This scholarship is not applicable for Jigsaw’s Executive Programs.
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Prajakta is a Writer/Editor/Social Media diva. Lover of all that is 'quaint', her favourite things include dogs, Starbucks, butter popcorn, Jane Austen novels and neo-noir films. She has previously worked for HuffPost, CNN IBN, The Indian Express and Bose.