In October 2017, I wrote about CODING – An Ocean Of Opportunities For Women, here at TechThirsty.com. The article was shared across various well-known forums and I was bombarded with queries. Nearly 70% of these were from women already working in the tech world. Interestingly, there was one common question among all of them, “What are the right skills that can make us leaders in the field, the skills that can get us our due in this field?”
Women leaders in the technology world are highly and vastly underrepresented. And the need of the hour is to get their voices heard as well as encourage them in such a manner that the next generation of women get excited enough to consider a career in tech.
So I spoke to Ms Manu Malhotra, Director, Engineering SW, Connected Car, Harman International India. A woman leader in the male dominated industry that she works in, Manu believes, “Women share nearly fifty percent of this world and their participation is imperative for mankind’s growth and foray into a more advanced and developed world. Like any other profession, engineering and technology can benefit immensely from perspective and solutions offered by women. They already have the skills to match!”
Despite all that, Kounal Gupta, Founder & CEO, Henry Harvin Education wonders, “The Tech World in Still a Man’s World! UN’s dream of Planet 50-50 by 2030 is still distant away. Where are we going wrong?”
I threw this question over to Christo Van Wyk, Area Director, India & Middle East, Meltwater (Global SaaS Leader in PR & Social Media Intelligence). Why ask Christo? Because, his dedicated commitment to women’s empowerment in the workplace have seen his teams be, on an average, 60% female. He says, “In my opinion, one of the most exciting disruptions in tech today, is seeing the shift from a male dominated landscape to one that nurtures the growth and advancement of young women. Therefore, I would encourage companies to invest in, and not overlook, the development of women in the work place. This can be done by creating a supportive environment to encourage their own personal & professional development.”
Gupta is of the opinion, “For women to meet the expectations, they need to have their basics of technology clear. With digital and content dominating tech, the top 2 skills which women should possess to lead the tech world are—firstly the ‘digital know how’ and secondly ‘content creation.”
So, then what are the right skills that we are talking about?
I spoke to many tech leaders across the globe. And each one of them believes that ‘imparting the right skills to women tech leaders’ isn’t about teaching them the basics of technology alone. It is also about how they take-on the tech world. It is about sharpening the following five major skills…..
- Sharpen Analytical Skills
Women are pro-active in multi-tasking, since they double up as home-managers and working professionals. Thus, it is often said that by-default women delve into logical thinking before making a move towards solving a problem.
Rayon Sumon, Founder & CEO, Global App Corp. in South Africa says, “It is this ability of women that needs to be encouraged by the employer. We at GAL have monthly awards in place. A small award goes a long way. Also we ensure that the winner passes the knowledge of her analytical skills to others in her team. She may be the best in one month, but they have to work as a team every month of the year.”
- Be Open to Risk-Taking
You have already taken the risk to challenge the men-dominating world of technology. So why shy away from taking further risks?
Deborah Kilpatrick, Co-founder and VP of Marketing of SourceKnowledge has once said in one of her famous interviews: “If you are unhappy where you are, don’t be afraid to make a move that will advance your career. Go after what you deserve and don’t wait for someone to give it to you.”
- Climb Your Own Ladder
Anamika Nath, a senior media strategist based in New Delhi deals with multiple clients from the technology world. Only one third of them have women in top positions. And working closely with them, Anamika has reached at one conclusion,” Whether you are a man or a woman, you need not climb the same ladder that is there in front of you. Tech world is all about novelty. Thus, be particular and choosy about how you can push the flow of your career. Create your own ladder.”
- Assert if You Are Right
Samantha J Noel, a web-coder from the USA says, “In the high-tech world, people are rewarded for speaking up and projecting self-confidence. Initially, I used to feel that I was viewed negatively whenever I used to assert myself. But with time I realised on the flip-side, I was passed over for promotions, ignored and even viewed as “too quiet” when I was found not-assertive enough. So, when you know you have a valid point, be confident enough to assert, don’t shy away even if you are a single woman in a group of men.”
- Collaboration is Key
Amantha Bill, an Innovation Manager in Britain asserts, “High-tech innovation relies on collaboration. Whether the men in the team take you for granted or not, remember that team effort is required to stride ahead. Conflicts are bound to happen where innovative brains work. Victory is in taking them in your stride and achieve what you dream to”
Woman icon Manu Malhotra is part of connected car division of Harman International India and leads the engineering deliveries and R&D for various programs from India. She gives us the parting advice, “New modes of education (including self) and knowledge dissemination should enhance women leaders’ capabilities further. Finally, it’s the self-belief which can propel us to the greater heights. Reach onto the skies and make clouds your wings!”
Fact of the matter is that women are a largely untapped market in technology. And thankfully employers across the world are finding this fact as a new-wave of opportunity.
Christo Van Wyk of Meltwater sums it up as: “The role and contributions of women in leadership have undoubtedly been one of the key drivers behind our success as an international organisation. Particularly in India & The Middle East, a significant part of our regional growth can be attributed to the impact made by local female leaders. Today, more than 60% of the leadership positions in the organisation are held by women.”