Having diverse people work in an industry brings in a flow of new ideas, viewpoints, and innovation which are critical for the growth of any industry but even more so in fields of technology. These new additions, small or big, can spell out a huge revenue increase, popularity, and overall growth for the companies. It is thus crucial for the tech industry to pick up the pace and match the number of men and women working in it.
As women empowerment gained a stronger momentum globally in the last few decades, the graph of gender diversity in said fields has shown noticeable improvement. Have a glimpse at where it all started and how it evolved for women in the tech space-
The past landscape of women workforce in the tech domain
It was Ada Lovelace, a woman, who worked on the firstever computer program in history in the 1900s. Her work was indeed an astonishing and historical achievement for women in tech worldwide. Another historical woman of the tech field was Radia Perlman, also known as the Mother of the Internet. Her contribution to the field is what makes the Internet possible the way we know it today. The list stretches to include HedyLamarr (inventor of WiFi), Katherine Johnson (the orbital mathematician of NASA who made Apollo 11 possible), and the legendary women of ENIAC who made the first all-electronic computer, among others.
This list of terrific women in tech has its Indian members like Tessy Thomas, also known as the Missile Woman of India, who legendarily became the first Indian woman to head a missile project in the country, or Ritu Karidhal, the Rocket woman of India, who was the director of Chandrayaan Mission 2. These women, knowingly or unknowingly, have made a contribution so significant in women's advancement in technical fields that they would now be remembered across history.
While the achievements of these women and more have been critical to world growth and development, it is a notable fact that the women community has not always been given their due credit for their achievements. In the early phases, women's achievements were either accounted for under someone else's name or simply undermined because of gender disparity in the profession. Even in today's time, the above-mentioned women are not as popular as their male counterparts in the field.
The numbers of women in tech were also dismally low, and women were discouraged to join the technical fields. The norm was to not let women study or work initially. However, the situation improved with time, and women were allowed to study and work but, even then, certain fields, especially STEM, were never encouraged in front of the womenfolk. This was mainly because of the heavy male domination of these fields. The conservatism characteristic of old times was what tabooed the STEM fields for women.
Luckily, not a lot of women paid heed to such taboos, as can be seen in the growth of women in the technological sectors in the present times as briefly discussed below.
The Present scenario of women employment in the tech space
It goes without saying that women have in fact tread a long way ahead in all fields of life to date. From being denied basic rights and confined to homes, women are now at the forefront of major achievements of any and all fields across the world. Indian women too, have not failed to make their mark in recent times, however, the fact that there is still some scope of improvement cannot be denied.
Even though India has a population divided almost equally between the two genders, less than 20 percent of women are identified as part of the labour force, as stated by The World Bank Databank, 2020. So it can be said that we have a long way to go to bring equality for women in the workplace in general.
Coming to the IT field, women represent a meagre 26 percent of our IT workforce, according to the Zinnov-Intel India Gender Diversity Benchmark, 2019. This gender gap can be observed right from the start, especially in the IT sector. The All India Survey of Higher Education report showed how the percentage of men enrolled in engineering and technology based courses was 71.1 percent, in contrast to the 28.9 percent of women. This difference of representation can be attributed to gender and race prejudices, social conditioning, lack of educational and employment opportunities amongst other holding back forces for girls. The reasons may differ for individuals, but the consequence of all these forces are eventually the same- lack of women representation in technological fields.
Generations of women and men have been working relentlessly towards establishing gender equality in all fields of work and education
Kriti Aggarwal, Co-Founder & CPO, StoreHippo
It is important to note that this disparity is not only affecting our present but also holds a substantial impact on our future. If the women of today continue to uphold a small percentage in these sectors, then it would not be possible for them to make a lot of ground impact to make things easier for the women of tomorrow.
It is, naturally, very essential for women in India and the world at large, to step up in tech fields to make a difference weighty enough to dominate the future of tech space. Some ways in which this can be achieved is by creating comfortable and convenient options for women to get educated and employed in tech fields. It is also critical that women are made aware of all the perks that tech related education carries in terms of money, career advancement etc. This can help us shape a brighter future for the women aspiring to join the tech space.
It is true that the evolution of women in fields of technology has been slow to date but it has also been steady. Thus, similarly, through consistent efforts, we can expect a hopeful surge in women representation in tech in the future.
What the future holds
Generations of women and men have been working relentlessly towards establishing gender equality in all fields of work and education. This, we do to open up a new, untapped potential of our population that are the women. It is true that the pace at which change is coming is slow and inconsistent but, it is also true that the change is, in fact, happening. This shows in the Kaspersky report of 2021 that states that 56 percent of the women in IT sectors across the world agree to have witnessed a positive change in women representation and equality in their organization in the last 2 years. The report also states how the work from home necessitated from the ongoing pandemic has helped women do and feel better in their technological jobs. Seeing the world of tech becoming more hospitable and comfortable for women is indeed a respite to all who have been working to achieve this day. With a consistent change like such, we will undoubtedly have an equal and prosperous place for women in tech in the future.
Even though the number of women in tech fields, especially in senior positions is dismally low, they haven't failed to make themselves seen. The women of technical fields have gained immense recognition globally by constantly proving their competence. This has proved to the world just how crucial it is for the tech sector to recruit more women. It has also made an indirect impact on the work pool available in the market for tech companies. Seeing the female surge in tech achievers, a lot of young women have been inspired to choose fields of technology as a career. In due time, these realizations, in both the industry as well as the workers' party, are bound to bring out a revolutionary change in the gender ratio of the field.