When you Google ‘women in tech’, you are sure to stumble upon a plethora of forums and collectives clamouring for better representation of women in the technology sector.
And it’s not just an empty slogan. There’s enough evidence and research that suggests that having more females in teams fosters innovation, creativity, productivity and results in more revenue.
Ex-Uber engineer Susan J Fowler’s blogpost about her mistreatment at the tech giant and the article by Pinterest’s Tracy Chou asking for hard numbers about women in tech have only increased the conversations around gender diversity in tech.
We at Belong are always looking for ways to create a more inclusive workplace. So it was only natural for us to look at what the benchmarks are when it comes to diversity numbers in India. The Belong Research team took it upon itself to consolidate and find the numbers. Here are the findings:
Indian technology industry has 26% women in engineering roles
We looked at all the tech companies in India and found that for every female engineer, there were three male engineers. Benchmarking this against the average number of women (irrespective of the function) in tech companies, we found that the overall representation of women was 34%. This reinforces the assumption that STEM jobs attract less women.
Men move into managerial roles faster
We analyzed the career trajectories of techies who moved into managerial positions and data says men on an average transition to managerial positions after 6+ years of experience while women on an average transition to these roles after 8+ years of experience. Once again, confirming that the glass ceiling is after all not an illusion.
Nearly 50% women engineers quit tech
We looked at a sample set of women graduating from Tier 1 universities from 2005-2009 and found that as many as 45% of women move out of core engineering roles after close to 8 years. After quitting engineering, these women mostly move to marketing, product management or consulting.
Testing has 33% more women compared to core engineering
Among the tech talent in India, there are more women in software testing roles (a less sought after skill) compared to core programming roles. This is the case even though the absolute number of jobs in software testing are significantly less than programming.
We found that for every 100 testing jobs, there were 34 women compared to 66 men. When it came to hardcore programming roles, the ratio changed to 25 : 75.
Only 7% women reach the C-Suite
We also analyzed the career trajectories of women to see how they progress in their careers over the years. We found that if 29% women start working in a given year, the percentage drops to a dismal 7% after 12 years. Here’s how the drop off looks like through the first 12 years of a professional’s career.
Looking at the data, one can see that the biggest drop-off in pure numbers is after the first five years. One obvious reason for this could be that women often take a break to start a family around this time in their lives, and many do not return to the workforce. Many IT stalwarts have been taking initiatives to 'bring back' these women. (More about it in the next section).
Here's how the gender gap widens over the years for tech talent.
ITES companies that have the best gender diversity in their engineering teams
We looked at the companies with the best gender diversity numbers and tried to understand what they were doing to attract and retain female tech talent. Here are the 5 ITES companies with the best gender diversity numbers:
How to hire for senior women talent?
Most companies have a diversity mandate and run a slew of initiatives to attract female tech talent. From female hiring drives to leadership development programmes to 'bringing the women back' initiatives to special incentives to refer female candidates, Indian IT companies are using innovative techniques to hire and retain female tech talent.
Speaking to Belong, Roopa Wilson, who leads the Diversity and Inclusion function for IBM India, talked about how after analyzing their attrition data they found that women typically quit between the age groups of 25-32.
"This is typically the time when women are either getting married or starting a family. We found that if women stay on after the age of 32, there is no stopping them," she said.
IBM worked with the professors of IIM-B and found that if women could build a 'career identity' before this period, they were much more equipped to handle the demands of their personal and professional lives.
"We have started a program to help build a strong career identity for young talent. We identify women with high potential and enroll them in a nine-month program where they get to interact with senior women in leadership roles and exchange ideas," she said.
Adobe, which ranks among the top 5 companies with the best diversity numbers among the product companies in India, has worked on building an inclusive interview panel to foster a fair assessment process.
Prasad Rao, head of talent acquisition at Adobe, said their first major milestone of the year was to create an an inclusive pipeline across all roles.
"We recently hired our first female engineering manager through Belong and will also be working closely together to create and execute a diversity hiring plan across major Indian cities," said Prasad.