A serial entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in Technology Leadership, Narayan Mahadevan is the Founder of IP driven Incubation Lab, BridgeLabz. An AWS recognised company, BridgeLabz focuses on increasing employability and nurturing ideas as well as talents in the Emerging technologies domain. Narayan oversees the overall operations and functions at the company.
Gender equality in tech remains a distant reality or a dream despite all the efforts made over the years. As of 2022, the representation of women in tech jobs in India remains around 15%, which translates into 13 lakh jobs. However, the Indian technology sector has witnessed a steady increase in the number of women in its workforce. It is even considered a more hopeful sector than others as tech has become the largest employer of women in the private sector with 1.5 million women, as per the NASSCOM research.
The ratio of women in tech roles has slightly increased as companies became more conscious about hiring women and promoting them to leadership roles to build diverse workforces. Companies today understand that adopting gender diversity can help them experience creativity, innovation, and efficiency like never before, especially with the increase in demand for tech talent.
What’s keeping the technology sector from achieving its goal of equal representation of women? There are several factors responsible for the lack of women in STEM fields. One of the factors is the lack of encouragement for young girls to take up sciences and enter technology fields. But a report suggests that the ratio of women in engineering institutes has consistently grown. Women in IITs have gone from 5% four years ago to 16%. But why the same isn’t translating into more women in tech jobs?
Firstly, the percentage of women in engineering institutes is still far less than what is required to achieve gender equality in the field. Furthermore, the women who enter the sector also face biases in the workplace. Some women also end up leaving the industry for the same reason. Other times they quit their jobs to raise kids, and it is difficult for them to return to work and resume employment because of the ever-changing nature of technology. By the time they join, the technology they knew didn’t exist. Similarly, some women realize their interest in tech much later and don’t know what to do.
It means that women are equally interested in technology fields, but sometimes they do not get the right opportunity, and other times don’t know how to pursue their goals. Engineering training can play a beneficial role for women seeking a career change to move to tech and those wanting to return to their tech jobs after becoming mothers or taking a break.
Here’s how engineering training programs can be an advantage for women:
- Active learning: Experiential learning or hands-on learning engages the talent throughout the process and does not involve any ‘mindless action activities.’ Constant engagement makes it easy to understand and learn the nuances of coding and programming. For example, peer teaching is an activity that is conducted during this type of learning. The talent transfers her knowledge and gets an essential insight into concepts by teaching other students.
- Structured Program: Experiential learning or hands-on training follows a structured program so that the talent can learn systematically for a better understanding.
- Engaging: This method encourages the talent to question, analyze, and seek solutions throughout the session. As a result, the learning process is interactive, exciting and simplified. Also, it involves practical work, so the talent stays focused.
- Ability to multitask: It also helps in promoting the ability to multitask. A talent is trained in a way that she can work on two different technologies simultaneously. This learning method gives the talent the benefit of ownership of the results as they are closely involved in the problem-solving activity. Also, it helps improve their thinking ability. Constant feedback helps with further improvement.
- Personalized: The tech talent gets a chance to interact and get trained by experts in the field. This way, they can learn concepts at their own pace through regular practice. Also, the mentors help clear any roadblocks that she may hit along the way.
- Success is inevitable: With constant problem-solving, feedback, and practice sessions, the roadmap to success is evident through learning programs.
- Ability to apply the knowledge immediately: Hand-on training enabled the talent to apply the learnings immediately. It helps give a clear introspection of how much the talent has learned and how much she needs to improve.
- High-level retention: Unlike the traditional method, experiential learning goes beyond the classroom and effectively helps the talent develop skills and enhance knowledge.
- Building self-confidence: With the proper guidance and platform, experiential learning can make women more confident to work across different technologies and make them job-ready and productive.
- Accelerated learning: Unlike conventional learning methods, experiential learning helps in faster and easier learning as it follows the practice of learning by doing. When the talent performs a task, the talent gets a chance to critical thinking and develop problem-solving skills and decision-making ability.
Training programs for women are the way to ensure that more women can enter the sector. These learning methods empower them with the knowledge of the latest technologies and equip them with other industry-relevant skills. Also, experiential learning prioritizes quality over quantity. It means women as part of the program will be able to specialize in specific technologies and master them entirely and use them efficiently.
Today, organizations steadfastly prioritize their diversity equity and inclusion programs to sustain women in the tech workforce. One of the much-appreciated ways is the career relaunch programs. It enables women to have a ‘second innings’ in their professional careers. However, tech companies need to work more for sturdy growth towards this goal in the coming years.