By Neha Khopkar, Customer Success Team Leader, AppsFlyer
Every year, we see multiple organizations releasing reports on the challenges faced by women in the workplace. Lack of guidance on career growth, not being visible and not being heard, staying relevant, balancing work and family, career breaks, and unconscious bias are some of the key areas highlighted time and again. What stands out from these reports year after year is that there is a slight improvement in the numbers. Thus, while we have reached a stage where the barriers to women’s professional growth are well-defined, we still have a long way to go before overcoming them. And I sincerely feel, an approach that can work is breaking gender silos.
Like any woman looking to make a career in the tech industry, I have faced most of these challenges, but my start has been quite novel. As an engineering student, I got to study and graduate from one of the most prestigious women’s engineering colleges in Pune. Seeing myself and many of my fellow female batchmates thriving in this environment instilled a sense of pride in me about what women can do. With the same gusto, I entered the technology consulting industry and initially grew at a fast pace. But soon, many of the obstacles mentioned above came up, and I was completely blind-sided. In a lead role, I was perceived as being too aggressive, and at the same time, my voice was not being heard. I lacked guidance on how to chart my career path, and it was downhill once I had my daughter and decided to take a break to raise her.
Luckily for me, all this changed with my current organisation. Despite having taken a break of a few years to raise my daughter, I was hired based on my skills and potential and have seen tremendous growth in the last three years and maintain a decent work-life balance.
Now, as I sit back and think about what helped me confront these obstacles while building my tech career, a few things that stand out are:
Robust personal development programs in organizations
With experience, I have found that not being heard or perceived as important has a lot to do with communication skills and style. Organizations wanting to retain and grow their female workforce need to establish robust personal development programs – the goal being to equip women with skills like assertive communication and effective self-advocacy.
Allyship with men to build an all-round perspective
Today, more and more men are becoming cognizant of the obstacles faced by women and want to support us, but they don’t know how. And I was surprised to be met with empathy and support when I reached out to my colleagues. By raising our concerns objectively and assertively, we can educate male allies on our challenges and, at the same time, build an all-around perspective by hearing their side of things.
Building a strong network of women acquaintances in the tech industry
Each one of us can stand to benefit from tribal knowledge. Having a strong network of women acquaintances in the tech industry has helped me find great mentors, stay relevant with the right set of skills, and chart a realistic career path while maintaining a work-life balance.
I genuinely believe that we all need to consciously work towards breaking the gender silos and act together to remove the barriers for women in the workplace. The benefits of a thriving, diverse workplace are for all of us to rejoice in.
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