By Dr Ranjit Nair, CEO and Founder, Germin8, a digital intelligence company
Looking down the pipeline for the next generation of women in tech, the picture isn’t rosy but I strongly believe that thinking inclusively is extremely vital for India. A recent survey’s findings revealed that when they looked at all tech companies in India and found that for every female engineer, there were three male engineers. Benchmarking this against the average number of women (irrespective of the function) in tech companies, the survey found that the overall representation of women was 34%. Low levels of women employment and leadership in the Indian tech industry should signal alarm bells. Gender diversity is increasingly becoming an economic argument, not merely a moral one. Moreover, most technical women want to advance their careers, but they don’t have access to development opportunities.
Stronger mentoring programs are needed to help women in technology, especially leaders or aspiring leaders. Another problem India faces is the unspoken bias, which creates a negative environment for women in technical fields, as well as institutional bias, which creates barriers for entry and promotion. Furthermore, Indian women in technology are also faced with deep cultural forces mainly stereotyping and the difficulty to find work-life balance as the pressure to conform to societal norms is hard to ignore in India. She must follow her dreams, serve the company and she must also represent the family outside the home, especially at the countless religious and cultural functions. All of these responsibilities leave the Indian woman little or no time to develop and hone an ambitious career in technology.
Why women in tech are good for the business? Other than the fact that women are impeccably fast learners and will put their hearts and souls into the work they do, this is also good for the company. There are some well-quoted studies which suggest that gender equality at board level is linked to higher profits within companies. The tech and innovation economy has a long way to go to achieve gender parity, but there are reasons to be positive.
Moreover, a variety of thought leads to better problem-solving. Collaborating with individuals of different genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and race leads to increased innovation and enhanced problem-solving. Hiring more women in tech also means that the company has the ability to tap into a large single economic force of the Indian women community. As technology continues to enter the average Indian household (think: all smart homes and the IoT devices), this consumer base and where they decide to spend their money could greatly impact the continued or future success of some tech-driven companies.
Lastly, India’s entire women specific marketplace lacks tech-driven women specific innovation. There is currently a marketplace of female-oriented products in India that desperately lacks tech-driven innovation. So whether they are menstruation products or ovulation tracking tools and apps, if Indian women step into more tech leadership roles the entire marketplace can benefit of the same.