Unfortunately, the tech domain in India is still largely dominated by men, and I’m not surprised. Historically, the engineering and technology domain has been proliferated to be what is known as, “a man’s job”. In India, women to this day are discouraged from pursuing careers in engineering or tech-related spheres and asked to adhere to social norms, which dictate engineering and tech to be, well, “a man’s job”.
Where Do Such Notions Originate From?
This widespread belief stems from conventional engineering methods that required hard labor as a prerequisite for daily tasks on duty, and thus effectively rendered women as unsuitable for the job, since according to conventional wisdom women simply weren’t meant for arduous tasks.
Sounds ridiculous right? One would assume that with the advent of more sophisticated technologies that we’re used to today, such notions would cease to exist. However, the idea that the technical domain is meant for men is what the majority of my female classmates have been brought up to believe, and is still widely accepted in most households in India.
Another reason for their deterrence that has been historically promulgated is the patriarchal notion that women are not mathematically inclined, which is ironic considering that our batch topper is a female. Besides, there isn’t any medical basis for this starkly prejudicial statement that often seems to make the rounds in Indian households.
However, a grim consequence of propagating such blatant lies has been a distressing effect on women. These factors combined have resulted in women across the board believing that they simply aren’t competent enough to get the job done as far as the technology sector is concerned.
The All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) in 2014-15 revealed that out of the 22 Lakhs students enrolled in B.Tech courses in India, a whopping 73% were male. Moreover, the same survey conducted in subsequent years has shown little to no change.
Additionally, according to belong.com, the Indian IT sphere has a meagre 26% women in profiles related to engineering, when compared to 34% in the workforce overall. Such data poses a grim picture; one that needs to be addressed immediately.
But Why Even Chase Gender Equality in Tech?
Gender diversity in the tech sphere is being spearheaded by technical giants today, which often begs the question as to why it is crucial in the first place. For starters, research has consistently proven that having gender diversity in the workplace significantly improves the overall productivity as well as the economic output for a company. Moreover, a study conducted by Harvard University in 2012 found that at every level, more women were rated by their peers, their bosses, their direct reports, and their other associates as better overall leaders than their male counterparts.
Additionally, women are also more likely to foster an environment that promotes higher teamwork, encourages creativity, and brings forth stability to the organisation. All of the factors mentioned here are crucial to developing a healthy work environment that promotes individual as well as collective growth. Hence, it’s irrevocably important that we strive towards gender equality in the workplace being turned into a reality, both in quantitative as well as qualitative terms.
The present scenario dictates that India is nowhere close to the optimum level of gender diversity that is desired in the technical sphere, be it in universities or at the workplace. But some laudable initiatives have come forward that have made a lasting impact, such as an increase in the number of reserved seats for female candidates at premier engineering institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) or the National Institutes of Technology (NITs). A higher enrollment into these institutions will ensure that a greater number of qualified women join the workforce in technical roles, which is the need of the hour.
It’s high time for our society to dismiss the age-old patriarchal notions of gender dominance in tech, and shift to an egalitarian meritocracy that serves the nation. Here’s hoping for the best.