Part 1: The changing face of women leadership in Digital and tech industry
Over the past years women have established their importance in the overall workforce. But even today there is a wide gap between the representation of men and women when it comes to digital and technology. Gender equality is still a far cry in the tech industry, especially at the C-Suite level.
According to Women Tech Network In 2022, women held about only 25% of the leadership positions in tech and only 14% of the software engineering positions. The ratio of women in tech is still very low compared to the overall workforce. Only slight progress has been made over the past 5 years.
However, women are gradually gaining ground in the technology industry. The process is slow, but a steady one.
Deloitte revealed in one of its surveys that women’s share in the overall global tech workforce has increased 6.9% from 2019 to 2022, while their share in technical roles has grown by 11.7%.
Deloitte Global predicts that large global technology firms, on average, will reach nearly 33% overall female representation in their workforces in 2022. One in four leadership roles at large global tech firms will be held by women in 2022.
Talking about the progress Satkeerthi Muralidharan, Senior Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, Airtel, said, “I think that over the years we have made a lot of progress in bringing more women into leadership roles. But we must understand that this progress has been on the back of a very low base. More women are now leading teams, they are also leading nations and women are making a mark in technology. I think we have a long way to go before the narrative changes primarily because our society is taking time to accept that the role of a primary caregiver can also be performed by a man, equally well or even better. Once we get out of binaries which bind us, then we have to as a society address the systemic challenges of skill development and upgradation of resources because the next Shakuntala Devi or next Tessie Thomas may come from Sundarbans or sand dunes of kutch in Gujarat.”
Harsha Solanki, Managing Director – India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, Infobip, while speaking on the overall growth in the tech industry said, “Over time, India’s Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) industry has undergone significant changes. Initially, enterprises used SMS and voice as the primary communication channels due to their regulation by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). SMS was particularly preferred for business-to-person communication due to its cost-effectiveness and fast delivery, with 2G network availability and growing smartphone penetration further boosting its popularity. However, with the evolving consumer behavior and technological advancement, WhatsApp too became gradually popular even though some organizations were hesitant to embrace it due to its higher cost. Online entertainment ticketing platform BookMyShow, one of the pioneers in the industry, took the lead and began using WhatsApp to share movie tickets. It led to its widespread adoption.”
Harsha further added, “Despite the rise of WhatsApp, SMS still remains a relevant communication channel in India. In fact, the revenue has grown year on year. Notifications, alerts, and important messages like transaction OTPs are still primarily delivered via SMS. The government also chose SMS during the peak of COVID-19 to inform people about vaccination updates and contamination zones. Honestly, the industries are so evolved that SMS and WhatsApp will co-exist as both have different use cases altogether. Moreover, India's young and tech-savvy population, with a majority under 35, continues to drive the popularity of chatting and conversational channels. While WhatsApp might be an ideal medium to communicate with businesses in real-time, SMS takes care of confidential messages (like OTPs). Overall, the CPaaS industry in India has evolved to meet changing consumer preferences and demands for faster, more accessible, and cost-effective communication channels.”
Tarunjeet Rattan, Managing Partner, Nucleus PR, noted, “The brand communication industry has seen rapid growth in the last five years where the integration of technology in daily processes has moved out of the hands of a select few to encompass a much wider circle of professionals across multiple levels of communication teams. While this was predicted for the last decade or so in every trend story, the pandemic was the final push that the industry needed to finally make this happen. Today the industry has changed for the better with more agile, swifter and efficient business models in place with lesser overheads because of tech integration.”
Prominent Changes in Tech Industry
Siddhyesh Narkar Chief Technology Officer, Wondrlab, listed some of the key changes in the tech industry:
Cloud computing: The rise of cloud computing has enabled businesses and individuals to access computing power and storage resources over the internet. This has led to the development of new applications and services that can be accessed from anywhere, anytime.
Big Data: The exponential growth of data generated by businesses and individuals has led to the development of new technologies and techniques for analyzing and processing large datasets. This has led to the emergence of new fields such as data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
Social media: The widespread adoption of social media platforms has transformed the way we interact and communicate with each other. Social media has become a powerful tool for sharing information, building communities, and shaping public opinion.
Internet of Things (IoT): The proliferation of connected devices such as smart homes, wearables, and industrial sensors has led to the development of a vast network of interconnected devices that can communicate with each other and exchange data. This has led to new opportunities for automation, optimization, and innovation in various fields.
Blockchain: The emergence of blockchain technology has led to the creation of new and cutting-edge decentralised applications and platforms which provide extremely secure, efficient and more importantly, transparent solutions for a range of industries including healthcare, finance and supply chain management.
Infobip’s Solanki added here, “The CPaaS industry is experiencing rapid evolution, driven by the demand for flexible communication solutions that can be integrated into various platforms. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) integration increased focus on security and compliance, and the rise of video communication are prominent changes.”
Furthermore, there has been a shift towards more cloud-based CPaaS solutions as businesses seek to leverage the benefits of cloud computing, such as scalability and cost-efficiency. There has been an emphasis on creating seamless omnichannel communication experiences where customers can interact with businesses across multiple channels, such as voice, text, email, and social media. Well, the future of business is digital-first.
On the other hand, Richa Telang, Founder and CEO of TrueBlue Advisory, is optimistic about the winds of change in the industry. She said, “As a woman leader, I can attest to the fact that there are comparatively fewer women in technology today. However, I am optimistic that this narrative will change in the coming years. While the statistics show that women are underrepresented in technology, there are many initiatives underway to address this issue. For example, there are several programs focused on encouraging girls to pursue STEM education and careers in tech. Additionally, companies are increasingly recognizing the benefits of diversity and inclusion and are taking steps to address gender disparities in their workforce.”
However, addressing this issue requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders. It is essential to create an inclusive culture that values diversity and provides equal opportunities for everyone. We need to foster an environment that encourages women to pursue careers in technology and supports them throughout their professional journey. Providing mentorship, networking opportunities, and training programs can be powerful ways to support women in tech.
Tarunjeet Rattan is also very positive about the change she cited: Yes. It is already changing. There are a lot more women graduating in various fields of technology and comfortable with technology than when we graduated. It is a process albeit one which I wished had a speed dial on max. Media also plays a key role in changing this narrative. Most women or men become conditioned towards gender roles based on what they see and observe around them. With today’s immersive media experience it is not surprising that the media and communication are pivotal to this change. A lot of effort has also been made by the media, communication and entertainment industry in recent years to showcase women in tech thereby serving as inspiration for more to enter the field or aspire to be showcased.
Siddhyesh from Wondrlab stated a few reasons why he believes the narrative is changing:
Education: A number of organizations are working to provide girls and young women access to quality STEM education and training, which can help increase their interest and confidence in pursuing careers in technology.
Role models: There are more women in leadership positions in the tech industry now than ever before, and they are serving as role models and mentors for the next generation of women in tech.
Awareness: There is a growing awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, and many organizations are taking steps to create more inclusive workplaces and cultures.
Remote work: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote work, which can provide more flexibility for women who may need to balance work and caregiving responsibilities.
Further speaking about why women play a crucial role in the tech industry, Priyanka Sethi, Director - Head of Marketing, Haier India, said, “Women play a major role in shaping the dynamics of society and I am optimistic about the future of women in technology. I firmly believe that innovation and technology are key enablers for gender equality and by leveraging the power of digitalization, we can create new opportunities for women and break down traditional barriers that have held them back.”
She added, “At Haier, we are committed to providing our employees with ongoing training and development opportunities, including access to online courses and other learning resources. We are also working towards fostering a culture of learning and experimentation, where employees feel empowered to try new things and take risks in pursuit of innovation. I believe that by working together and taking a proactive approach, we can make real progress towards achieving gender equality in technology and beyond.”
(Part 2 of the report will analyse the issue of lesser number of women in the tech field and the required skill upgradation.)