We talk of equality and gender justice ritualistically every year around Women’s Day, but when it comes to giving women a level playing field and job opportunities we fall short. No wonder women are under-represented in most professions, but nowhere is the disparity in numbers more glaring than in the IT sector.
This is disconcerting, especially at a point of time when India needs to brace up and build a truly modern and skilled IT workforce to remain globally competitive. This cannot happen without the active involvement of 50 per cent of the population.
Diverse and dynamic: There’s no denying that the IT sector in India needs more women. More women in IT would mean expanding the talent pool. Greater women representation could also translate into other gains – upping diversity, increasing innovation and creativity and making the workplace more dynamic.
Conscientious and caring: In the present male-dominated scenario, the IT loses out on a lot that women can bring like multi-tasking, customer-focus, team spirit and a nurturing mind-set.
Modern HR outlook seems more in line with qualities women generally possess – compassion, empathy, inclusiveness and understanding. These soft skills go a long way in effective resource and manpower management.
Influencing purchase: Given the fact that half the users of technology products and websites are women, who have a far greater influence than men, on purchase decisions, having more women is good for a company’s financial interests.
When you talk about products and services, specifically for women, you need them to conceptualise, design, and strategise ways to sell these products and services.
Catch them early: So how can women’s representation in the IT workforce improve? Schools must invest in exposing girl students to new and emerging technologies.
Almost every youngster today knows about leaders like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs; how many of them know of Sheryl Sandberg, Susan Wojcicki, and Ginni Rometty – women heads of Facebook, YouTube, and IBM?
Teachers and parents must introduce young girls to such role models and help them to get interested in IT. Women in colleges and universities need to be made aware of the vast potential of this sector.
Job Avenues and growth potential: What really are the opportunities and growth potential for women the IT Sector? In an era defined by cloud computing, social media and mobile strategies, new IT job profiles are being created every day.
Infrastructure, development, security and data are some of the expanding field. Women specialising in these could land good jobs and make fast progress.
Opportunities in infrastructure
Technical/help and service desk: Information Technology Service Manager is a fast-growing job role, more vital to companies than ever before.
It needs skills of network troubleshooting, mobile phone device support, login and authentication support, and sophisticated troubleshooting.
Cloud technology: Today, there is a chronic shortage of cloud-technology skill. New requirements in this field include more knowledge about security, containerisation, how to use cloud technologies to control costs and conduct migrations.
Opportunities in development
Data programming: Today, IT programmers need to work more and more with data. Instead of just creating sequential programmes, they need to analyse data, consider business problems, and then interpret data and turn it into information.
Automation development: This is a skill automation women engineers need to equip themselves with. It would involve ability to automate various repetitive skills in the workplace. The job role of automation engineer is becoming increasingly important today.
Artificial intelligence: This is a much sought after skill—
programmers who can help to create the AI of tomorrow, or leverage AI services for business purposes.
Opportunities in security
Vulnerability assessment: The foremost skill in the security sphere is to protect the system from hackers.
It includes ability to assess vulnerability. Assessors help to penetrate systems, and do threat modelling.
Disaster recovery: This skill is vital in helping companies plan against man-made or natural disasters. It involves creating recovery plans from cyber-attacks and all sorts of major business interruption.
Opportunities in data
Analytics: Dealing with the Internet of Things (LoT) needs a tremendous amount of data. Companies are moving fast to learn invaluable lessons from this data.
Small data: Small data skill means ability to deal with organised, repetitive, and useful data. Such data need to be compiled and interpreted.
The IT sector needs women engineers who can use technology to process focused feedback to draw critical conclusions.
Big data: This is seemingly random, variable, and comes in at a tremendous volume. Such data is not pre-organised. Big data skill would include the ability to sift through thousands of Web requests or e-mails to find patterns.
The above are some of the avenues of job and career progression for women in the IT sector. As more and more companies go in for automation of their processes, businesses transactions, and infrastructure management, newer opportunities will arise.
Women need to understand this and equip themselves with the required skills to compete in the job market. If the IT sector in India is to progress, it has to be diverse and gender-balanced. And women can contribute a lot to in making this sector a thriving one.
The writer is co-founder and managing director, Marg ERP