Few days back a conversation around ‘techade’ and what will it take India to realise its vision almost took an emotional turn. What followed was a series of statements and arguments and in the middle of all this Saravmeet ended up asking my views about “being a woman tech leader”. While I shared a candid response, but it really got me thinking about my journey, what helped pave my way and the context of ‘Women in tech’ at large.
Well, when I decided to pursue a career in tech, it was almost like breaking the stereotype. And I am drawing a reference to almost 3 decades back when science for girls was synonymous with becoming a doctor and the most preferred profession was certainly – teaching. But my choice was guided by the logical flow of programming, the play of data and huge value that technology could bring to the table. And what helped me realise my dreams was a very supportive ecosystem – right from my parents to my husband, in laws, my son, mentors and even my colleagues – everybody played an instrumental role in shaping my career. And I strongly believe that is exactly what every woman needs today.
Going by the data, the total pool of women in tech in India is only 29%, out of which leadership roles are a mere 8%. Now, at a time when we are talking Digital India, Skill India and Tech leadership – these numbers certainly look grim. The solution? Concerted, focused efforts that are channelised right from home to the classroom and the boardroom. But opportunities can yield outcome only if steered in the right manner and that’s where individual responsibility comes into play.
Throughout my career, I have encountered my fair share of doubters, which I believe is true for many women in various fields. I heard comments like – “She can’t travel”, “She can’t spend too much time (on work)”, “She will not be able to manage a team of men”, “It’s too technical or it’s too difficult”…so on and so forth. In these moments the mantra is to stay true to your passion, have difficult conversations with conviction, be politely aggressive! and don’t let the doubting voices get to you. Easier said than done but consider it baptism by fire. Wear it like a badge!
Role of ‘Women in Tech’ in steering the growth of economies across the world is neither incidental nor accidental. This is a collaborative and progressive journey where gender is not a defining factor – where every talent matters and every hand counts. The question is how we make this journey inclusive and equitable. The onus is on us! It is about the choices we make.