Numbers in STEM streams on the rise yet few women in top roles

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New Delhi, May 11

India is among the few countries which produce the highest number of engineers and scientists in the world, but while nearly 43 per cent of all Indian graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are women, their participation in STEM roles is merely 14 per cent.

While continuous efforts are needed to encourage women on the occasion of National Technology Day that annually falls on May 11, there is a need to renew focus on the lack of women participation in STEM roles, say stake holders.

There are very few women leaders in tech companies, which needs deeper attention and corrective measures to ensure they don't drop out mid-career.

Today, as organisations work towards strengthening their diversity and inclusion narrative, it is important to facilitate an ecosystem for easier participation and growth of women in STEM roles.

Jagriti Kumar, Chief Financial Officer, NLB Services, believes that companies need to offer a transparent pathway for women to climb up the ladder without the fear of ambiguity, bias, pay gap and discrimination.

"Studies have highlighted the direct positive effects of gender diversity in the workplace on innovation, enhanced collaboration and unique work culture. Access to training, projects and other resources can help bridge the gender gap by a great measure. With the help of structured guidance and flexibility, women can accelerate their growth and professional development," Kumar said.

The rapid ongoing shift to digitalisation is aligning the stars for women in technology, who aspire to portray their technology skills and wear the technology leader hat!

According to Bengaluru-based market intelligence firm 'UnearthInsight', India employs more than 1.8 million women in tech sectors, largely in IT services companies, Global Captive Centres (GCCs), software products and technology start-ups.

But gender diversity for senior roles in core product or tech services remains low both globally and in India.

"Industry players must showcase women leaders as role models and also create defined career paths for women from coding to quality to managerial to service line head roles as that will encourage more women in STEM to aspire to grow to leadership roles. Marketing and HR function has done well and has more than 5000 women leaders but tech services, GCC and tech start-ups have a lot of work to improve this," Gaurav Vasu, CEO, UnearthInsight, said.

As per a recent NASSCOM study, women were 23-24 per cent of the employees in the Indian IT sector a decade ago, which has now increased to 34 per cent of the 4.5 million employee base.

Rituparna Mandal, General Manager at MediaTek, believes that the change needs to start with us, and organisations need to focus on empowering women to break the glass ceiling, one day and one position at a time.

"Considering the variety of skills and personality sets that women bring to senior leadership positions, including resilience, creativity, adaptability, innovation, empathy, unique perspectives and team spirit, it is imperative that there be a higher representation in the upper echelons of STEM companies," she added.

In order to increase the participation of women in science, the government has also initiated several schemes such as Knowledge Involvement Research Advancement through Nurturing.

The scheme, launched in 2014-15, provides opportunities for women scientists in moving up the academic and administrative ladder, and the future is bright with the participation of women in STEM, say officials

Hence, the time is right to fix the lop-sided and leaky talent pipeline and build a gender-equal top tech force today, they add.


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