Work culture in organizations is gradually moving towards diversification and inclusion. The current times are witnessing gender stereotypes bring identified and shattered in the wake of gender sensitization and diversity. Organizations across the globe are making concerted efforts towards the goal of equality of opportunity. Still, equality at workplaces is a far fetched dream. Take for instance the case of the US, where:
- 50% of the workforce is females, and
- 60% of the advanced degrees are earned by women.
Yet they earn lower salaries and fill up fewer seats in male-dominated professions like technology and finance. Fortunately, these stereotypes – those of women typically avoiding math, science and often all things logic – are on the verge of shattering.
A study conducted by the global research organization Catalyst stated that among Fortune 500 companies, the companies which had the highest number of women directors on board have shown better financial results and those having at least three women on their board have stronger-than-average results.
Gender Stereotyping deeply impacts the psyche and confidence of the female workforce. As per research, by the age of 6 years stereotypes regarding intellectual ability take root in girls. Girls identify themselves less with STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). At the workplace, women find a less conducive environment to hold leadership and skill-based jobs, share their ideas in discussions concerning these subjects.
Indian Scenario: Tech
The current Indian scene has begun a positive, and hopefully soon – pretty picture:
- Women representation in corporate jobs has increased from 21% to 30% in a span of five years, as posted in Zinnov-Intel Gender Diversity Study 2019.
- Females are represented higher in non-technical roles at 31%, while in technical roles their share is 26%.
- Only 11% of the C-suite positions are held by the women, they were represented at 20% in mid-roles and 38% in junior roles.
If these stats are compared with the global figures, Indians are surely taking strides in leaps and bounds to cut across cultural misfits and gender Stereotyping issues. As per a NASSCOM study of IT professionals and middle management from companies of Europe and India, 35% of the people with specialist technology roles are women in India as compared to a mere 17% female representation in Europe.
Several organizations like Oxfam India through its campaign Bano Nayi Soch are all in for progressive ideas that subvert the norms of patriarchy.
In 2016, Facebook initiated recruitment practices focused on bringing in black and female workers into their workforce – in who now make up 36% of its workforce. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and the only woman on their board posits the concept of ‘leaning in’ in her recent book as the idea of being ambitious in any pursuit.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, the CEO of Biocon and the first woman billionaire entrepreneur, reiterates that there is no dearth of talent in meritorious women and even though a small minority, they are well respected and worthy of inclusion.
Indian scene: Finance
Women are considered excellent investors, but female representation in the finance sector remains meager. A CFA Institute Gender in Investment Management study shows a mere 11% representation of women investment professionals in the industry. Research across the globe has proved how a culturally rich and diverse workforce delivers optimum results and lower risks for investors. Experts cite several pros of getting the women included in the workforce.
- Firstly, female inclusion will tend to bring in newer perspectives into the industry that can usher in a new revolution in the industry. Quality of output and decisions will definitely see improvements.
- Gender diversity can lead to innovations and rethinking of the old investment strategies that are sure to impact investment outcomes.
Several initiatives have been taken to improve the involvement of the females at all levels. For instance, Young Women in Investment, India’s first initiative seeks to create female awareness and interest in the investment management industry. The initiative focuses on presenting investment as a long term viable career option to the women. The success and support of this initiative have definitely paved the way for the inclusion of females in the future of finance.
Initiatives to Break Stereotypes
While we’re doing well, there can be several initiatives that can make the future of tech and finance into a substantial female-centric arena:
- Tech can be leveraged to advance gender parity and women empowerment in a number of ways. The development of the gig economy is offering a contingent workforce that is sure to lessen such gaps in the future.
- Unlearning the biases in our mindset and doing away with gender stereotypes will be a daunting task that would demand our attention towards sustainable and all-inclusive economic growth.
- A survey conducted by Unilever showed that 77% of men and 55% of women felt that men are best suited for high-stake projects. Such views deeply impact gender parity issues. Marketers and media need to stop the sexist portrayal of women.
- Social, political and cultural fronts should take it upon themselves to curb these formative practices of stereotyping and expose both the genders to all kinds of non-traditional fields like tech or finance to let them make their decisions rationally.
- There is a dire need to bridge the skill gap among women by taking advantage of digitization and tech innovations. The global “talent shortage” is currently at 38%, with the top ten hardest jobs to fill in STEM professions. The focus has to shift to building competencies and skillsets among women.
- Another key area of concern is the online representation of women. There are 250 million fewer females present online as compared to males. Connecting and bringing greater access to regions with no internet can bring about unforeseen opportunities and can even act as catalysts synthesizing women’s inclusion in tech and finance.
The instilling of the right temperament among the youth holds prime importance as the majority of them make their career choices by the age of 26 as per a survey. Women do not lack in tech or finance skills and knowledge, what they lack is the proper nurturing environment enabling them to fulfill their dreams sans any bias or stereotyping. Once the institutions of today get in sync with gender equality and diversity themes, the potential and opportunities awaiting women in tech and finance can be attained.
And we can surely hope for a feminine era in finance and technology awaiting us in the near future.
“You are fierce, bold and daring! Also, the best when it comes to caring.”
Happy Women’s Day!