India Is A Pioneer For Women In Technology
Many in the West believe that, while sexism exists in the computer industry in North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe, gender inequality is far worse in developing countries like India. This notion, however, is incorrect, which is why it is important to highlight how India's IT-BPM industry is now trying to maintain its leadership in luring women technologists in India.
In India, the number of women engaged in the IT business has increased dramatically over the last decade, with more than 30% of employees now being female — in contrast to many Western nations, where women's participation in IT has remained stagnant or declined. Women made up 46.8% of postgraduates in IT and computing in India during the academic year 2014-2015, according to NASSCOM's Women and IT Scorecard – India, a research conducted in collaboration with the UK's Open University. This is nearly double the rate in the United Kingdom.
Regardless of your political leanings, there is mounting evidence that a more diverse workforce leads to more successful and long-term commercial success. According to McKinsey & Company's study Why Diversity Matters, organizations in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform their respective national industry medians in terms of financial returns.
Meanwhile, organizations in the lowest quartile are statistically less likely than the typical company in the data set to earn above-average financial returns, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or race (that is, bottom-quartile companies are lagging rather than merely not leading). When you consider the realities of the technology business, where there is a worldwide competition for talents in growing digital technology fields, it becomes even more critical that the industry has access to a larger talent pool.
However, women's participation in the IT sector is declining in many Western countries. According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology's (NCWIT) Women in Tech: The Facts study, the number of women employed in the IT sector in the United States has been steadily decreasing. From 36% in 1991 to 24% in 2015, women's participation in the industry has decreased. Women in the UK are much less likely to participate. According to the British Computing Society's annual book Women in IT Scorecard, the number of women in the field has ranged between 16 and 18 percent between 2005 and 2015. India's upward trajectory contrasts with the United States' downward trend and the United Kingdom's stagnation.
At the graduate level, gender equity is important
When the Indian IT industry had roughly two million people, NASSCOM, the trade group for the IT BPM industry, started its first diversity campaign over a decade ago. Because the sector was developing so quickly, concerns like worker attrition needed to be addressed. One of the efforts that will assist India achieve this, according to Sangeeta Gupta, SVP at NASSCOM and responsible for the communications and strategy department, is increasing worker diversity.
NASSCOM studied the approaches of companies like IBM and established an annual diversity event with prizes to highlight excellent practices in areas including flexi-working, return to work after maternity leave, worker transportation, and overall HR services education. This was India's first industrial phase to address gender disparities.
Ushasri Tirumala, the senior vice president and general manager of Manhattan Associates in India, is an outspoken supporter of women in IT. Tirumala is on the board of WIN, Manhattan Associates' diversity project. She explained that there is a lot of interest in women pursuing engineering in India, both culturally and politically, because STEM subjects are considered as a natural career route for women and a place where they can excel. Because the government has always pushed women to pursue education and professions in the technology industry, India today has a big influx of women pursuing these goals.
As a result, India outperforms the US and the UK in terms of women enrolling in ICT as a higher degree subject of study:
Nearly 3.9 million individuals work in India's IT-BPM business, with over 34% (1.3 million) of them being women. While this number is higher than the general female representation of India's workforce (24 percent), an analysis shows that women make up over 51% of entry-level hires, over 25% of management roles, and less than 1% of the C-suite. According to Tirumala, "To balance work and life in a corporate context, we now need supporting policies for midlife. We now have a huge number of female engineers, and we must guarantee that they are represented at the top."
Duty to one's family
Marriage and parenthood are well-known in the West as stumbling blocks for many women's job advancement. This is true in India, where the government recently increased maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks for the private sector. Daycare centers or creches for working moms, a nondiscriminatory performance rating system that recognizes the female employee's absence, and work-from-home rules are among the additional benefits of the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act.
IT services businesses that have promoted India's software talents abroad are working hard to build a gender-diverse workforce as more women in India make their presence known in the workplace. HCL Technologies, one of India's leading IT businesses, has announced its iBelieve initiative, a second career program for women who have taken a professional hiatus and want to return to work.
Women who enroll in the program receive rigorous training in order to improve their technical and business abilities, which are essential in today's workplace. The length and type of training they get will be determined by their prior experience and areas of interest. According to the firm, the program has gotten an incredible response, and it is presently reviewing candidates for the different courses on a self-support basis, with the incentive of a job offer from HCL if they complete it. Flexible working hours, childcare facilities, 'pink parking,' and work-from-home alternatives are already available at HCL to help women employees achieve a better work-life balance. According to the research, 99 percent of women who take a maternity leave now return to work.
Family obligations, of course, include not just raising young children but also caring for parents and older children. TCS, India's largest IT company, offers a flagship program for mid-level women executives that encourages them to step outside of their comfort zones in order to solve these concerns. Middle-aged Indian moms frequently prefer to take time off to help their children who are applying to universities, according to Ritu Anand, TCS's Deputy Head Global HR. The firm is attempting to assist them by giving flexibility in terms of working closer to home, allowing them to continue to progress in the corporate environment while ensuring that their teenage children receive the necessary assistance and advice for university entry.
When both husband and wife work for the same company, a lot of geographical movement is necessary. TCS has long allowed partners to join them wherever they work by either finding a project for them to work on in the new site or allowing them to take time off to be the guest spouse. According to Anand, the number of applications for the male guest spouse is growing. The firm started a small committee ten years ago to track the impact of its diversity and inclusion policy, and has since built a system for generating dialogues at all levels of the organization to offer ideas that work.
When it comes to career development, Sangeeta Gupta adds that after six years of tracking yearly diversity awards, NASSCOM saw that the number of both male and female entry-level posts had increased. At the middle and senior management levels, however, there was still a significant gender disparity. NASSCOM has implemented a variety of programs across India to address this issue and to build and promote female role models.
To achieve gender parity, HCL has created targeted programs and activities at the executive level. According to Anuradha Khosla, AVP Enterprise HR at HCL, each line of business has an internal leaderboard to ensure that each business line head and their minus 1 level have a direct report who is a woman. Each business line leader is in charge of retaining female executives and increasing diversity via targeted hiring. Women executives at the organization have access to a networking platform where they may communicate with senior management and the board of directors.
Other services, such as Feminspiration, Women Connect, and Women Affinity Groups, allow you to network with successful women in your company and sector. ASCEND, a highly targeted career development program for high-potential women leaders, aims to promote the careers of women in functional leadership roles toward senior leadership positions. Women leaders can pick their desired job at the next level under this program. They are mentored by senior executives in order to help them achieve their goals. Mentors serve as guides, assisting them in developing a development action plan and allowing them to gain new leadership abilities.
Some of the program's key components include peer coaching, experiential learning, networking workshops, leadership discussion sessions, and self-paced learning modules. According to HCL, women executives who finished the training have retained 96 percent of their positions. HCL's diversity practices create an inclusive workplace by focusing on recognizing unconscious prejudice and behaviors through a variety of seminars and leadership training programs. To cope with these prejudices, the leadership is supplied with tools.
After then, these programs are passed down through the ranks of management. As part of their professional growth, the corporation also ensures that women executives attend critical sessions such as client presentations, business reviews, and senior leadership evaluations. HCL also hosts a Driving Talent Summit, which includes a Why Not? list of female employees who have received two good reviews. HCL wants to make sure they're considered for the next level of advancement.
Female respondents consider other individuals as a role in their work growth more than male respondents, as evidenced by the mentoring statistics. In contrast to males, women rated previous or current supervisors as the most important aspect in their careers (74.4%). Reading books/articles was more beneficial for guys (66.3 percent ).
Professional organizations outside of work and mentorship are also more appealing to women. In comparison to 34.4 percent of male participants, somewhat more female respondents (43%) attribute job progress to professional groups. While 13.9 percent of women said diversity initiatives were beneficial to their careers, just 6.4 percent of males thought so. When it comes to ethnic groupings, Black/African American (21.8%) and Latino/Hispanic (16.5%) respondents saw the most value in these programs.
The next years
In middle-class India, parents still expect their sons and girls to pursue careers in engineering or science because these are the most desirable fields to work in. Engineering is a popular career choice. There will be more job options for this group as the Indian market expands, just as there are in the West.
However, India will continue to be a top provider of gender parity STEM graduates until this transformation occurs. Indeed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Digital India program, which he began in 2015, has enhanced the profile of science and math, particularly in rural towns. Because state television has spurred a tremendous interest in STEM topics among Indian students in locations where there is no Wi-Fi, tier 3, 4, and 5 Indian cities are proving to be a good source for engineering capabilities.
Of course, India is hardly a model of workplace diversity, and it recognizes that racism, caste, sexuality, and disability are all areas where much more work has to be done. In addition, more women leaders are needed in Indian IT businesses, and sexism in the entrepreneurial VC culture in India, as well as elsewhere, must be addressed.
However, it's fascinating to observe how India and its major software businesses have prioritized the recruitment of female talent, outperforming the West in terms of graduate gender parity. In the coming decade, India's desire to attain higher levels of workplace inclusion may possibly help the nation leapfrog the West in terms of developing a considerably more diversified leadership pipeline.