Diversity in the technology workforce has long been a matter of concern and a topic of debate not only in India but all over the world. Research done to study the ratio of women choosing STEM education has revealed not-so-encouraging trends. Cultural forces like marriage, family responsibilities, and others contribute to the insufficient number of women choosing STEM courses. There are many organizations that are trying to increase the representation of women in the technology space by having women-only jobs; however, these efforts are not paying dividends because there is a dearth of women with the required education and experience for these jobs.
So, what does the stats say about the representation of women in technology? Figures suggest that women and technology don’t go too well. An Oxfam report released in 2019 revealed that corporate India has less than one-third women employees. Only 26% of these are employed in technical roles while non-technical roles have 31% women. The report also mentions that the gender diversity ratio in Tier 1 cities is a little more than 30%. So there are around 30 women per hundred employees in these cities. The gender diversity ratio is lower in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. This better performance of Tier 1 cities is due to the presence of technology companies. No wonder cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, and Pune are the top of the list with 34%, 33%, and 32% gender diversity rates in technical roles respectively. Also, there are only 11% women in senior leadership roles. However, women representation in company boards rose to 13% in 2018 as compared to a lowly 5% in 2012.
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Women in technology: Culture obstacles at play
Women in India have always been dealing with societal biases and influences when it comes to education and work. Starting from school and right down to jobs and entrepreneurship, women are not given the freedom of choosing their careers as men are. Most girls have to literally fight their way to acquire STEM education or pursue a career in technology. This is why the representation of women in STEM fields is so low.
Even their own families don’t want their daughters to get technical education. They are often told to leave studies abruptly because their families want them to get married at an early age. After marriage, their extended families don’t allow them to pursue their careers and if they do, they have to maintain a balance between their personal and professional lives. It is a lot of hard work managing both home and work. And this is the reason why most women in tech leave their jobs within the five years of employment.
These cultural obstacles are also a big reason why India has such a low number of women entrepreneurs. Working on a business idea and ensuring that it continues to grow requires a lot of effort, which is hard to muster after fulfilling all the personal commitments and adhering to all the societal norms.
Families, both immediate and extended, will have to play a key role if India wants to see more women participation in the economy. It’s only the families that can help women deal with societal biases and cultural obstacles. The future of women in technology can only become bright if their families and the society allow them the freedom and equality, things that everyone so openly talks about but have a problem with when it comes to women of their own families or neighbourhood.
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- “Indian Women in Technology Face Unique Cultural Obstacles” by Geetha Kannan
- “Only 26% Women Work In Tech Roles In India: Report” by Aman Rawat on December 12, 2019