Investing in Women, Championing Excellence in Tech

“Investing in women means investing in the people who invest in everyone else,” said Melinda Gates,one of the first women who set foot in the modern technology world. Early exposure to computers inspired her to study the science of futuristic machines and technology, paving the way for her to work as a techie at Microsoft Corp. Taking a leaf from Gates’ book, starting early is the key. 

Education, employment opportunities, and professional success of women in technology depend on investments. And investments come in tangible and intangible forms. Individuals, organizations, and societies must ensure women and girls equal access to learning and development in technology, building their capabilities and enabling them to be skilled and proficient.  

Technology can also break the physical barriers and reach the last mile, to every woman and girl, providing them the opportunities to learn, grow, earn, and lead. The United Nations’ theme for International Women’s Day 2024 ‘Invest in women: Accelerate progress’ emphasises the need to invest in women for their economic development, leading to a gender-equal world. Technology opens avenues of information, learning, and decision-making, overcoming social and economic obstacles. 

Achieving parity in tech

It takes two to tango – the technology landscape, which continues to witness unprecedented evolution, requires equal participation by women who must be provided a level-playing field. It is crucial to empower, support, and invest in women in tech to keep pace with the rapid advancements. 

Giving women equal opportunities is not only a pathway to their personal growth but is a strategic imperative for organizations. Including women in tech enables businesses to harness diverse perspectives, talents, and innovations with unique experiences and insights. Diversity is critical to IT performance, especially when technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI are dominating industries and offering the potential to driveeconomies. 

Organizations must amplify their efforts to increase women’s representation in leadership with career-acceleration programs. A workplace culture where women are encouraged to lead can have a positive impacton female employee engagement and retention,creating the next set of leaders. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2023, women have increased their representation in senior leadership since 2016 across all industries. The sectors that made gains in women taking up director roles, for instance, are technology, information, and media. While this shows moderategains, focused investments can power meaningful progress towards gender equality. 

Rise, shine, innovate 

AI, generative AI, and other new-age technologies have been transforming the existing tech jobs and requisite skillsets. Besides their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) background, employees must be agile, flexible, and equipped with relevant skills.

Through right-skilling programs, underrepresented groups can form the next untapped talent pool.Investments in digital literacy initiatives can bring underserved and rural women into the mainstream,allowing them to take up technology roles.With a larger and diversified talent pool, the scope of creative and innovative solutions also improves. 

The Indian Government’s dedicated scheme ‘Women in Science and Engineering-KIRAN (WISE-KIRAN)’ aims to enhance the participation of women from all walks of life in science and technology, with a largergoal of breaking the stereotypes and bringing gender parity. The scheme, which offers education, research, and other opportunities to women, is certainly a positive step. 

Investments in women entrepreneurs will not only broaden the horizons of the technology landscape but will also promotegender equality. Since a decade, the number of women entrepreneurs has been on the risein India and globally. Today, many women-led startups are setting benchmarks across industries.The scenario in the tech space is quite similar. Be it beauty and wellness startup Nykaa, digital payments platform MobiKwik or AI companies Niramai and,Indian womenare at the forefront of innovation and leading successful technology companies. 

There sure are reasons to celebrate the progress, but one must be aware of the underlying challenges holding back women from entering the technology space. Besides investments and opportunities, social conditioning is crucial for inspiring young girls to choose a career in technology. Women’s participation in tech requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders to unlock theeconomic value. With the right investments and resources, women in technology can surely get the future they want. 

Sarika Naik is the Chief Marketing Officer and Chairperson, Diversity – India, Capgemini

Views expressed are personal

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