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Women in Engineering breaking barriers and leading innovation in India

women in tech

India is increasingly aspiring to move from women’s development to women-led development to achieve equitable and sustainable change. Expanding the participation of women in engineering is critical for accelerating technology-led economic growth inspired by their diverse perspectives. Progressive technology companies in the country are creating enabling structures – from inclusive hiring practices to providing access to education and training opportunities, to equip women with the skills they need to innovate.

Women engineers of Accenture in India, SAP Labs India, NatWest Group India, Nutanix India, WNS, Walmart Global Tech, and Birlasoft Limited share their views on what it takes to a build a successful career in technology.

Nikita Maldhure, Custom Software Engineering Manager, Advanced Technology Centers in India, Accenture

“Technology is by far the biggest growth accelerator of this century and increasing women’s participation in STEM roles is key to ushering in diversity of perspective, increasing innovation potential, and expanding the talent pool.

My advice to women aspiring to build a career in technology is to develop the ability to reinvent themselves through continuous upskilling and seize the opportunities that come your way. Technology evolves rapidly and continuously. Hence, keep up with the latest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, blockchain, edge computing and automation. Invest in upskilling, get certified and embrace change. Join focused tech group connects to expand your horizons.

Being a true partner to one’s clients requires an engineer to have a keen grasp on the underlying business challenge. Hence, focus on building relevant domain knowledge, business acumen and most importantly – a problem-solving approach.

Be open to feedback and seek mentors who can guide you on both building on your strengths as well as addressing shortcomings. Lastly, build strong support systems both at work and at home.”

Priyanka Porwal, Chief Architect in Intelligent Enterprise & SAP Central Product Architecture, SAP Labs India

“As a woman, my journey in tech has been extremely rewarding but not without its challenges. While the times are changing for the better, I would like to share some of my learnings advice for young women techies who are just starting in their career. It is important to remain curious in an ever-evolving field like engineering, and women should leverage professional courses, workshops and networks to continue to improve on their skillsets and technical aptitude.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions is another advice I would give women to expand their knowledge and build subject-matter expertise. Earlier in my career at SAP, I was often appreciated by my seniors for asking questions during meeting.

Choosing a career path that resonates with your interest can decide course of your success. If it is not clear in the beginning of the career, try to find internships or attend technical workshops where you get an opportunity to explore different avenues. You can make an informed choice based on your personal exploration experience.

Building a career in a field that was once considered most suitable for men can be demanding, if not difficult. I believe a positive attitude leads to positive thoughts, positive mindset and affects many areas of life – health, happiness and success. Often, the biggest learnings often come from the failures. It’s best to take failures in stride and pursue the challenge again with a tunnel vision. Letting go of your inhibitions to make your voice heard is the best thing you can do for yourself.”

Shalini Arora – Head of Everyday Banking Technology, Retail Banking, NatWest Group India

“Technology and digital transformation are disrupting industries and workplaces in a way we have never seen before. To thrive in this era, the real opportunity for organisations lies in leveraging this convergence of technologies to create an inclusive and human-centric future.

Engineering is a catalyst for change, and it empowers women to design and define ground-breaking advancements that can benefit organisations and society at large.

As women, we are known to strike a balance between our technical capabilities and skills, such as empathy and cross-team collaboration leading to a better generation and execution of ideas. Despite the great strides made towards gender equality over the last few decades, women are still an underrepresented group in Engineering. As per the latest report by AIM Research on ‘Women in Tech’, the Indian tech industry has a total of 4.6 million employees, and of which, only 1.3 million (29%) are women. While globally, only 5.31% of the women workforce are part of STEM fields.

In my first job at Telco Pune, I was one among the six women in a batch of 60 graduate engineers where engineering and innovation was at the center of all activity. Being a minority in the group did not come in the way of my goals and aspirations and I attribute this to the equitable environment created by my parents. This led me to believe that providing a level playing field of opportunities and learning creates an environment of inclusion and brings the best out of women at the workplace. With several years of technology and people management experience and having worked with multiple global organisations leading the strategic technology transformation journey, I actively work on initiatives to support equitable practices and create a culture of learning through future skills building.

My entrepreneurial experience of running a technology start-up enabled me to appreciate the value creation for businesses through technology and the significance of building an innovative mindset to be ‘change-ready’. As a women leader, I am constantly working towards creating a culture of innovation and experimentation. The quote, “You never lose; you either win or learn.”, strongly resonates with me and enables me to encourage women to take risks and push boundaries to achieve excellence.”

Vanita Prabhu, Senior Staff Engineer, Nutanix India

“Estée Lauder once said, “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it”. When it comes to my story, I was one of the few fortunate ones to have access to a personal computer as a ’90s kid. My childhood fascination for computer games interested me in pursuing computer science and led me to opt for Engineering in my undergraduate degree. In my current role at Nutanix, I am a Senior Staff Engineer focusing on distributed systems, storage, and cloud technologies.

Today, everybody has access to the Internet through smartphones and numerous other computing devices. In the last two decades, we made a huge leap forward with 4G/5G networks bringing faster Internet to the masses, social media, e-commerce, and wearable computing. It’s hard to imagine any aspect of our lives which doesn’t involve it. These tectonic shifts in various engineering aspects make it an exciting career choice today.

As a mom to a toddler, family support and the flexible working culture at Nutanix enabled me to continue my post-motherhood career. In today’s growing economy, companies offer “Back to work” programs that allow women to re-enter the workforce after career and maternal breaks.

Besides providing equal opportunities for women, employers in the engineering industry are also progressive in maintaining work-life balance by providing flexible work hours and work-from-home facilities. Industries have a sustained focus on diversity hiring and various women retention programs. As 21st-century women, we have endless opportunities to fulfill our career aspirations choosing to be employees or entrepreneurs. We must take a leap of hope and become the best version of ourselves.”

Jayanthy Anand, Corporate SVP, WNS Triange

“The tech industry has experienced significant workforce-related transformations in recent years, introducing numerous job opportunities and career paths. Traditional IT roles have also evolved to offer diverse options in engineering, software development, project management, and more through upskilling and cross-skilling programs. Moreover, now with the emergence of Gen AI further revolutionizing enterprise-wide functions, we can expect to see more expansive possibilities, especially for women, to secure well-paying jobs with substantial growth potential.

Despite persisting gender disparities like pay gaps and promotion gaps, large tech organizations are actively working towards increasing gender parity. Women empowerment and the acceptance of equal responsibilities have contributed to this change, making them more independent. Advocating for oneself and showcasing skills, experience, and accomplishments have become essential elements for women’s success.

Given the ever-evolving nature of technology, continuous upskilling is crucial, and women can overcome historical networking challenges by leveraging social media platforms to participate in discussions, connect with industry leaders, and break stereotypes. Social media offers valuable opportunities for women to connect, engage, and expand their knowledge.

Based on personal experience, I highly recommend utilizing new technologies to foster connections, facilitate collaboration, and transform one’s career trajectory.”

Prashanti Bodugum VP – Technology and Chennai Center Head, Walmart Global Tech 

“It’s encouraging to see many more women entering the tech workforce in recent times. With greater access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and career counselling, women are blazing the trail in the world of technology.

However, technology is a dynamic field and is evolving at a rapid pace. My advice to women engineers is to stay future-ready by building skills in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Intelligent Automation and AR/VR as these will power business transformation. Today, multiple avenues are easily accessible to upskill oneself, such as online courses on Coursera and Udemy, blogs on Medium, insightful studies by academicians, informative resources on YouTube and even Kaggle, a forum where freshers can gain experience and learn from professionals in the field. I would encourage everyone to make the most of these learning platforms and expand their skillsets. Additionally, seeking guidance from mentors can prove invaluable in building a successful career in tech. Their insights and support can go a long way to help overcome challenges and grow as leaders. Being a part of women-in-tech communities and networks can also be beneficial.

At Walmart Global Tech, we continuously invest in developing different leadership attributes in our women associates. Several engagements are led by our Women’s Resource Community and the Belongingness, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (BDEI).

Team to bring this strategy to life, including empowHER, a three-month career development program for our high-potential women associates at mid-management levels. Similarly, W-Connect is our mentoring initiative aimed at creating a career-focused identity for women at the mid-levels, in addition to programs like Lean In Circles and Walmart Women in Tech. Our ReSpark initiative offers various training programs to help women associates return to the workplace after an interval. LeadHER is another platform where senior women are provided targeted developmental opportunities to prepare for leadership roles.”

Ritu Jain, Associate Practice Director – Blockchain, Birlasoft Limited

“If you ask me what’s that one thing which keeps me going – it would no doubt, be the love of technology!

I would encourage you to invest in yourself through continuous learning and development, embrace learning as your constant companion! Seek relevant courses, workshops, certifications, to expand your skills, gain an edge, unlock new realms of possibility.

I commenced my tech journey without the privilege of having mentors to guide me, even though it allowed me to develop and progress through self-driven learning, it took me considerable time and effort to acquire a comprehensive understanding of things. I would encourage others to follow the path of learning with the help of mentors. Seeking mentorship does not imply weakness or dependence. On the contrary, it demonstrates a willingness to learn from others, capitalize on their knowledge, and expedite your growth. Reach out to mentors, industry professionals, and fellow enthusiasts who can offer guidance, knowledge, and a fresh perspective.

Forge strong bonds within the tech community. Attend events, conferences, and meetups. Engage with like-minded individuals and mentors. A diverse network accelerates growth, opening doors to boundless possibilities.

In my view, success is not solely about material gain or titles. Success is in making a meaningful impact, solving real-world problems, and contributing to the betterment of society.

Lastly, remember to fuel your passion, embrace challenges, cultivate a supportive network, seek continuous growth – above all believe in yourself!”

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