Challenges Faced By Women In Technology

The future of AI will change everything about life. And the gender bias that’s permeated history has already reared its ugly head. The AI revolution has, until now, been shaped by men and is starting to marginalize half of the world’s most critical stakeholders: women. How can we make huge decisions that have global implications if women — half of the world’s population — are missing from the equation? The results could be catastrophic. To address this challenge of AI, we need a body of diverse leaders in Tech, led by women, to come together and create industry-wide standards.

At JobsForHer’s flagship event, AccelHERate 2020, senior leaders came together to speak at a roundtable discussion called HerTech about the challenges faced by women in technology.

Unconscious bias

Eighty-two percent of women in the Indian tech workplace feel unheard at their jobs. This signifies a problem with workplace culture. Technology is a male-dominated field and an inherent gender bias can result in lesser attention to the contributions of women at the workplace. Unconscious bias, at its worst, reduces a professional to the value of her gender, rather than the sum of her experience and skills.

How companies are solving this:

Pavan Kishanrao, Head, Talent Acquisition, Akamai, spoke about the need for a mindset change. “At Akamai, we’ve impaneled inclusion coaches for every level, and implemented a 6-month long program with intervention to enable our women tech employees cross hurdles,” he added.

Getting back to work

In fields like technology, women on a career break can lose touch with industry trends and end up lacking the required skillset to make a successful return to work. Moreover, when these women are interrogated about their career break at job interviews, they lose confidence in their ability to pick up where they left off. On the other hand, mothers returning to work refuse challenging assignments for fear of not being able to balance work and home successfully.

How companies are solving this:

Bhavna Kumar, Senior Director, Visa Technology, spoke about the efforts being taken to ensure that there are sound returnee programs for women on a break.

Gautam Shetty, India Talent Acquisition Lead, Maersk Global Service Centres, echoed this sentiment when he spoke about Maersk’s efforts to make the process of hiring itself gender-neutral. “We’ve even made our job descriptions gender-neutral, and included videos on what a day at Maersk would involve in the interest of women who apply.”

Upskilling

It is imperative for women on a career break to reskill before attempting to get back to work. The same is true for women professionals who are not on a break — upskilling opens up avenues and gives women the confidence to pursue leadership goals.

How companies are solving this:

Gautam Shetty expounded the benefits of Maersk’s back-to-work program. “We offer women returnees options for reskilling through NASSCOM for training,” he explained.

The journey upwards

The JobsForHer DivHERsity Survey found that while companies start with 30% women at the entry-level, the number of women dips to 10% at the managerial level and then reduces to only 1% at leadership levels.

Apart from several other factors mentioned above, one of the reasons for this dip is a hesitation to ask for leadership roles. Women also report that they don’t even realize that they are eligible for promotions because they’re busy proving their worth where they are. What’s more, they work under constant comparison to their male peers.

How companies are solving this:

Gaurav Panwar, Associate Director, People Partner, S&P Global, provided his insights to the AccelHERate 2020 roundtable on the leadership challenge. “It’s vital to send women technologists to participate in conferences like these, so they get exposure to industry best practices,” he said.

By advocating and implementing all the points mentioned above, JobsForHer has been trying to make the working world a welcome place for women at all stages of their careers, and especially in technology roles so that they are an active participant in determining our future.

[“source=businessworld”]

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