The landscape for women in tech has taken a paradigm shift. The technology realm is being manifested with the latest innovation by women technologists. In our special series of covering such women in tech, we spoke to Bhuvaneswari Natarajan, Senior Director – SSQA and Corporate Quality at CSS Corp. Natarajan has two decades of experience in leading large software development and support and also has hands-on experience in implementing ITIL-based processes in large engagements.
In our conversations, we covered different dimensions of the workplaces for women professionals in the IT industry. Here’s what unfolded.
How has the workforce diversity landscape evolved in India in recent years?
Diversity and Inclusion have become integral towards fostering a workforce of the future. In the Indian scenario, this was initially perceived as varying gender, however, the understanding of the concept has evolved to encompass various other subsets. Diversity hiring has risen to 32% in 2020, from last year’s 23%, as per a report by Avtar Group. Organisations are integrating workplace diversity at the core of their organisational philosophy and are championing it through initiatives and policies to promote positive change. Conscious effort and commitment to promote a culture of diversity has resulted in organisations across sectors to reap tremendous benefits that directly impact business outcomes. Diverse and inclusive workplaces bring in different perspectives from employees because they are encouraged to be their real self, which in turn adds to the heterogeneity of the company and leads to higher creativity and innovation. Over the years this has created greater employee engagement, increased collaboration, and profits for companies, thus enabling their people to prosper.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
The tech industry is evolving at an extraordinary pace, and during this rapid growth, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of women employees. The initiatives and support rendered by technology companies through mentorship programmes, peer training, reskilling and upskilling courses gives women in tech a platform to hone their abilities further as well as develop and grow within their roles. Research has shown that women are goal driven, empathetic and meticulous. The tech industry has a plethora of opportunities for women to explore, expand their horizons and succeed. Women are transforming the field with their innovative practices and disruptive thinking. Organisations are investing in equipping women with the skill sets and knowledge to take charge of their careers. It is indeed a great time to be a woman in tech.
There are few women at C-suite positions and top leadership. What are the most critical challenges organisations face while appointing a woman leader at the top position?
Organisations have constantly grappled with the challenge of ensuring a gender balance for C-Suite and top leadership positions. This situation emerged as few women were able to cross the hurdles encountered in the span of their career to grow and reach a position to be vested with leadership. You can divide a woman’s career graph into two segments: BC (Before Child) and AD (After Delivery). Many women take breaks to focus on their personal front, the prospect of them resuming their careers becomes a significant decision due to lack of a reliable support system. Also, women need a workplace that renders support through various stages of their career and enables them to take on as many personal and professional roles without any inhibitions. These shortcomings, both internal and external must be countered through practices that create a healthy and positive environment to empower women and enable them to shatter the glass ceiling and make a mark for themselves.
What are the most flourishing career choices for women tech aspirants?
There are infinite possibilities for women entering the burgeoning technology ecosystem. New-age and emerging technologies such as AI/ML, Cloud, DevOps, among others provide immense opportunities to learn, understand and deploy the power of technology. Moreover, women can make their mark and create a niche for themselves by propelling their learning, growth, and development forward. It is with sheer commitment, focus and perseverance that they can achieve their goals and excel in this / any field.
What is the best way to expand your professional network?
Networking and making professional connections are imperative for individuals to foster collaboration and growth within this dynamic industry. There are multitude of ways through which people can expand their professional network and create an impact across various fronts. Joining professional organisations such as Project Management Institute (PMI), and being a part of internal company events, as well as events organised by reputed industry bodies and companies are ways to build contact. Tapping on alumni networks through LinkedIn is yet another means to ensure that people are connecting with like-minded individuals to further their career and add to their learning significantly.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
My advice to any woman contemplating a career in the tech industry would be to be focused and goal-driven from the outset and chart out a career map with the milestones that they would like to achieve across their various roles and capacities. It is vital to positively affirm oneself and celebrate every achievement. Be hearty in approbation and lavish in praise. Always believe in yourself and follow your passion!