The technology industry across the globe is keen to offer limitless possibilities to those who invest and use their skills – be it men or women. However, despite significant growth in the number of women working in IT roles, female representation in the technology sector is still at a budding stage, research reveals. To dive deep in this issue, we spoke to Usha Venkatasubramanian, Head of Analytics, AI & Cognitive Practice for Emerging Markets (India, Middle East, APJ), LTI, about the current landscape of opportunities for women in technology. Here are excerpts:
Q: Do you think there is an unconscious bias in recruiting women in technology? If so, what are the ways we can overcome it?
A: In my opinion, the world is moving very fast today and there are new technologies, new algorithms that come up every day. Women who have the acumen to learn in depth and develop innovative ways to solve business problems through analytics, should not think about constraints when they decide to work. It is just the “Can do” mindset, which will enable us to overcome the challenges and move up the ladder.
Q: Have you ever faced gender disparity in your career?
A: No. In my 30 years of career in the IT field, I have never experienced any dearth of opportunities, even in male-dominated domains like manufacturing and related industries. With adequate domain awareness and conviction, women can go far in the field of their choice.
Q: How can we inspire young girls to get involved with technology careers?
A: I have seen a lot of young girls aspiring to pursue careers in engineering and information technology. Technology organizations and media should create more awareness through programs in secondary and higher secondary schools. A participative culture can enable them to decide and succeed in their career path.
Q: What would be your words of advice for women professionals who are looking to switch or start a career in Data & Analytics?
A: Data & Analytics is a very interesting field. It involves math, technology, domain and business acumen. Therefore, my advice is to keep the learning broad-based – which means while you learn statistical methods and Python/ R programming, do not miss out on the understanding of a few business domains – be it banking (risk scoring), manufacturing (failure prediction), etc. Data science is more of an art than a science – keep a “Let’s Solve” approach. That is what we do at LTI.
Q: Is there a need to re-start the programs by leading MNCs to help women get back into workforce after a break? How can these programs help in uplifting women in technology?
A: Yes. It would be a good idea to have a restarter program to help women “resume” after a break. One of the factors that women may struggle with is the technology advancement gap that typically happens, due to rapid changes in this field. This restarter program can help in bridging such gaps and bringing back the confidence that might have lowered due to the break.
We see a lot of senior women in Government jobs performing their duties as IAS, IPS, IRS officers. LTI scores high on such new-age flexible and employee-friendly environment. It does act as a big comforting factor allowing professionals like us to concentrate on our core tasks much more effectively. Given the right impetus, women in technology can come back and perform a long and fruitful career.
Q: What are the various other steps that companies can take to increase the number of women in technological field?
A: Companies should create women forums through which they can discuss challenges in work-life balance and find solutions accordingly. LTI has a dedicated women’s forum – Minerva (A league of like-minded females, who do not want to compromise their career, but at the same time can manage their personal lives very well). Also, rather than travelling to outstation locations, companies should encourage use of digital interactions with business users.
Women should be given leadership positions and groomed for senior roles. On the other hand, senior women leaders should be assigned a group of mentees, so that they can share their experiences and provide the necessary handholding to the younger women.
Q: Do women in senior management roles have to tackle the ‘prove it again’ bias?
There is no “prove it again” for women. As long as women are dedicated in their careers, take accountability and deliver to the expectation, there is nothing that is biased. At LTI, everyone has to learn and prove – irrespective of whether you are a male or a female, senior management or not. Women, who have the capability to deliver should go all out and grab the opportunity as it comes their way.
Q: What would be your tips for maintaining work-life balance?
A: I feel the mantra to perfect work-life balance can be:
- Just like the way we prioritize tasks at work, it is important to prioritize between official tasks and personal tasks.
- Accept newer challenges at work without compromising personal time.
- Use the work days efficiently to deliver all work commitments, so that weekend can be completely dedicated to family.
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