Why Indian IT needs more women

India needs a truly modern and skilled IT workforce to remain competitive in today's global world. This cannot happen without the active involvement of 50% of the population - women. For all the talk about gender justice and equality, women are woefully under-represented in this field.

The disparity originates at the school level, where fewer girls than boys opt for subjects like science and computers. It continues through college and university and is reflected in professional choices. Far fewer women than men opt for IT as a career. This needs to change.

Early initiation:

Schools must invest in exposing girl students to new and emerging technologies. Almost every youngster today knows about men tech leaders like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs; how many of them know of Sheryl Sandberg, Susan Wojcicki, and Ginni Rometty women heads of Facebook, YouTube, and IBM?

Teachers and parents must introduce young girls to such role models and help them get interested in IT. An encouraging home environment can make all the difference in helping girls see IT as a viable career choice.

Young women in colleges and universities need to be made aware of the vast potential of the IT sector. They need to arm themselves with IT skills to compete on an equal footing with men in the job market.

Growth potential

What are the opportunities and growth potentials for women in the IT Sector? In an era defined by cloud computing, social media and mobile strategies, new IT jobs are being created every day. Infrastructure, development, security and data are some of the expanding fields. Women specialising in them could land good jobs and make fast progress in their careers.

Talent pool

But this isn't just about promoting women. It's equally about promoting IT and creating a diverse IT workforce. Diversity increases innovation and creativity. More women in IT would also mean expanding the talent pool in this field.

Greater women representation could also translate into other gains upping diversity of talent and productivity and making the workplace dynamic and diverse.

Women bring different skills and qualities to the table - multi-tasking, customer-focus and team spirit are some differentiating ones.

Modern human resources (HR) outlook seems more in line with qualities that women generally possess - compassion, empathy, inclusiveness and understanding.

Different perspective

Several empirical studies show that diverse teams often do better than the best team just on the basis of diversity of perspective and problem-solving approach. And women definitely have a different way of looking at things.

There are many examples where women have demonstrated that they can be a driving force for innovation and ideas in technology.

Purchasing power

Moreover, given the fact that women have a far greater influence (85% according to one study), than men, on purchase decisions, having more women especially in decision-making positions, is good for promoting a company's financial interests.

Not that all women working in information technology are experts in creating products for women, but a company could certainly benefit from their ideas and perspectives of the needs of women the single largest consumer category.

Evitable Progression

Women tech icons and data showing the benefit of having more women in the team will change things over time. This also seems to be the evitable progression.

More and more job profiles today and more so in the future, will have a strong IT component. Women need to understand this and equip themselves with the required skills.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi's focus on 'Digital India,' the IT sector is more likely to witness business expansion than other sectors of the economy. The government needs to do a better job of exposing women to IT.

If the information technology sector in India is to progress, it has to be diverse and gender-balanced. And this can happen only if women join the IT workforce in large numbers.

(The author is MD, Marg ERP)

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