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3 Reasons Why Women In Technology Have A Greater Role To Play

Shiva Chinnasamy

Engineering Director - Product & Discovery, Tesco Bengaluru

Today, women make up for an encouraging 51% of all new recruits in India’s technology industry. However, multiple factors push them to reconsider their career choices and they account for only 34% in terms of total employees, as per a NASSCOM study.

In fact, as many as 50% of women in technology decide to quit their careers or put them on the back-burner at junior and mid-levels, according to another industry report.

While this is a huge potential loss to the industry, it is also a deterrent to women and the society at large in closing the gender gap and achieving ‘balance for better’.

Here are 3 key reasons why I believe that women in technology need to continue pursuing their careers:

Create scope for greater recognition and growth:

I was surprised to find out that a lot of talented women in India’s IT and technology industry – as many as 42% as per a Booking.com study – feel they are underappreciated.  This is a stark contrast to the global average of 20%.

The trend highlights the strong need for a change in work culture and peer perception. At Tesco Bengaluru, we address this perception gap right from the recruitment stage.

As part of our inclusive decision-making approach, we ensure that all assessors undergo training for fair decision making. We help them in becoming aware of their own biases and emphasize the need to treat all candidates equally throughout the process.

Similarly, when we identify top talent in the organisation, we step back and review nominations through the diversity lens before making leadership decisions.

While we actively work towards closing this perception gap as an industry with inclusion initiatives, an increased presence of women at the mid and senior-level is an important step in this direction. Currently, the percentage of women drops to a meagre 7%, 12 years after they start working; most women quit their jobs between the age of 25-32, just when they are on the verge of taking their careers to the next level, details the study.

I believe this is where initiatives such as our Diversity Council can make a difference. Its Attract-Retain-Develop strategy is designed to help women unlock their career potential through several tools, including a structured and dedicated leadership programme for women.

Influence the next generation’s career choices:                                                     

The more women we have in the technology sector today, the more women we are likely to have in the industry tomorrow.

I recently came across a study conducted by two Indian women – Tara C. Dennehya and Nilanjana Dasgupta – at the University of Massachusetts. As per the study, the percentage of girl students who dropped out stood at 18% for those with male mentors and at 11% for those who had no mentors. However, not a single student who was assigned to a female mentor chose to drop out.  

Clearly, having a woman role model they can look up to is directly correlated to the number of women pursuing careers in STEM and technology. At Tesco Bengaluru, we have a series of career coaching and skill development programmes where women colleagues can serve as role models, especially our trained career coach team, which supports colleagues in identifying relevant career paths.

Children of working mothers grow up to become happy adults:

Though this statistic may seem shocking to several colleagues, turns out as many as 43% highly-qualified women quit their careers or off-ramp for long periods to raise their children, according to Sheryl Sandberg. Back in India, the situation isn’t too different.

Lack of access to quality creches, long working hours, and limited support from family members and colleagues often see women putting their careers on the back burner.  

As the first step to achieving ‘balance for better’, Tesco Bengaluru has developed world-class creche facilities at two of our sites. Most importantly, this facility isn’t just available for women colleagues, but also for male colleagues. Further, apart from the standard maternity and paternity leaves, our work from home and sabbatical policies are designed to help young parents create a work-life balance for themselves and their partner.

Of course, there is a still a lot that remains to be achieved to close the gender gap at work. However, for those considering their present-day options, here’s a positive finding; children of working mothers are not just happy while growing up, they also go on to become happy, egalitarian, and highly-educated adults, as per a study featured in a Harvard Business School report.

I am confident all the above 3 factors will pave the path for more women in technology to pursue their careers right up to the senior leadership level. I would also love to hear your thoughts on how we can work together to achieve a 100% balance.