Creating more opportunities for women in technology sector and STEM education in India

– By Anurag Awasthi

The low metrics of women in engineering as a discipline is a matter of grave concern. According to an AISHE survey, only 11% of engineering graduates in India are women. The percentage of women studying computer science in Indian universities has remained stagnant at around 15% for the past decade. The number is even lower in the hardware domain which is the bedrock of semiconductor industry and is predominantly male-dominated. The reasons for this gender gap are manifold, ranging from unconscious biases to societal expectations and lack of access to opportunities. It is essential to address these challenges and create an environment that is conducive to women’s success in the world of technology.

To include more women in the tech sector, it is important to start early. This means encouraging young girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects in school. By providing them with early exposure to these fields, we can inspire and motivate them to pursue careers in engineering and technology. Organizations can support this initiative by collaborating with schools to offer workshops, mentorship programs, and summer camps that encourage young girls to explore STEM fields. Another crucial step is to provide mentorship and support to women who are already studying engineering. By offering mentorship programs and connecting female engineering students with female engineers in the industry, we can provide them with guidance and support to navigate the challenges they may face. Such programs not only help women build their confidence but also provide them with a roadmap to succeed in their chosen fields. Industry could dovetail this aspect as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) planning to enhance the efficacy of mentorship programs by ensuring that female mentors are available to guide and support female engineering students.

The semiconductor industry is a rapidly growing and dynamic field, with a huge potential for innovation and technological advancement. However, despite the many opportunities available, the metrics of women in engineering remain low. As India embarks on an ambitious semiconductor manufacturing mission, Industry can also play a significant role in promoting diversity and inclusion in the semiconductor industry. This includes setting diversity goals and holding leadership accountable for meeting them. Organizations can also implement unconscious bias training to help managers and employees recognize their own biases and promote a more inclusive workplace. Such initiatives can help create an environment that encourages and supports women’s success in engineering and technology. While this is a work in progress in a large number of entities, these best practices need to be imbibed by all including MSME’s and Startups as well.

Creating a more inclusive workplace not only promotes gender diversity but also makes good business sense, since diverse teams bring unique perspectives, experiences, and ideas to the table, leading to better problem-solving and decision-making. Companies with diverse workforces are also better equipped to serve diverse customer bases, which can lead to increased profits. Therefore, it is essential for organizations to prioritize diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices and ensure that women have equal opportunities to succeed in the tech sector.

Another effective strategy to promote diversity and inclusion in semiconductor education and the tech industry is to change the perception of engineering as a male-dominated field. This can be done by highlighting successful female engineers and role models and creating more opportunities for women to showcase their skills and talents by featuring more women in industry events, ideation sessions and conferences. Furthermore, it is essential to ensure that women are represented at all levels of the organization, from entry-level positions to senior leadership roles.

Promoting diversity and inclusion in the tech industry is crucial for creating a more inclusive and innovative workforce as also for increasing women Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in India which is rather low. By encouraging young girls to pursue STEM subjects, providing mentorship and support to women studying engineering, setting diversity goals, and changing the perception of engineering as a male-dominated field, we can promote gender diversity in the tech sector. The future will belong to those organizations which prioritize diversity and inclusion from their hiring practices to giving more billets to women in leadership roles. They are more likely to attract and retain top talent leading to better business outcomes.

(Anurag Awasthi is the Vice President of India Electronic and Semiconductor Association. Views expressed are the author’s own.)

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