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Why India lacks more women leaders in tech

  • 3 mths ago

Once a male-dominated sector in India, a career in the IT industry has become the most sought-after option for women. In fact, the number of women enrolling in B-Tech courses across various tech institutes has doubled. According to the ministry of education, entries went up from eight per cent to 19.72 per cent between 2016 and 2021. Additionally, there are more Indian female graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) at tertiary level than in developed nations like the US, UK, Germany and France yet there are fewer women tech leaders, role models, and tech startups run by women today. 

The very few who managed to reach the top had to overcome numerous longstanding challenges. The hurdles women face often look different from those their male counterparts face. According to Skillsoft’s 2022 Women in Tech Report – India Region, only seven per cent of the 1,004 women tech professionals surveyed held executive-level positions (CIO, CXO, CISO), while 13 per cent held managing director-level positions. 

Let’s address the pressing reasons for the underrepresentation of women leaders in tech. 

Lack of equity in opportunities

While women have the skillset to excel in tech roles, the biases in organizations and society are barriers to opportunities. A theme of systemic gender imbalance emerges as the topmost challenge for women in tech. Notably, the challenge of lack of equity in opportunities is more starkly resonant among those who have been in their careers longer. 66 per cent of the women surveyed said that men outnumber them in their organization for leadership roles at ratios of 2-to-1 or greater. The ratio of men outnumbering women by 2-to-1 or greater is higher for those working in tech companies (72 per cent) than non-tech companies (66 per cent), suggesting that tech companies see a starker gender imbalance.  According to the same report, 47 per cent cite a lack of equity in opportunities as the biggest challenge women face in pursuing a tech-related career (Skillsoft Women in Tech Report 2022). Even in non-tech companies today, there are different standards set for them versus the men in their field, while women tech professionals continue to encounter inequity compared to their male peers on multiple levels. Organizations must promote and create more women role models to usher in real change toward gender balance. 

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