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How SheDares India is giving Wings to New Tech Workers

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By Amit Mehta, Head of Business Development- Education & Training at Amazon Internet Services Private Limited, India

Worldwide 8th March is celebrated as International Women’s Day, and as we celebrate the achievements of women around the world, we must continue to look closely at gender equity in the workplace. While many industries, including technology, are becoming more inclusive, there is still work to be done to make them more diverse and accessible to all.

For those of us who have non-technical skill sets, have worked outside tech, and are looking for a career change, the transition can seem difficult. For many women, the first step can be even more daunting because the global average of women in the tech sector is only 28% . This often translates to a lack of role models to inspire younger entrants to the field. Companies such as AWS are proactively working towards breaking down these barriers and inspiring more women in India to pursue a career in technology.

Based on research by The Dream Collective, a global diversity, equity, and inclusion consultancy states that there have been several barriers for women when trying to enter a tech sector. Not knowing where to start from in terms of exploring a career in tech, lack of visibility for female role models, difficulty determining where to begin when considering IT career paths and a steep learning curve are few of the reasons.

Various studies have indicated that the number of women entering STEM-related fields is on par with men, but at managerial positions and higher, this gender representation becomes more disparate. Today, women make up 34% of the IT workforce in India, with a 50:50 gender parity rate in STEM graduates according to 451 Research.

The technology industry needs more women talent to encourage higher problem-solving abilities and enhance performance at the business level as there is potential in building and curating high-tech products and services catered to women. Hence, it is imperative to create programs to empower women and to identify the pain points that women face in specific areas.

As more women in India enter the workforce, IT services firms that have advocated India’s software skills worldwide are working hard to establish a more gender-diverse workforce through various initiative and programs to help women one of such initiatives is the AWS SheDares program. SheDares is a program in India, in collaboration with local learning startup Aspire For Her and The Dream Collective. This free online program consists of four 45-minute self-paced lessons aimed at broadening perspectives, recognizing transferrable skills, and assisting participants to hone their skills and find tech job opportunities. For professional women in non-tech industries, the interactive learning experience attempts to demystify professions in technology and prepare them for a transition into the field. Practical guidance for breaking into the technology field, workbooks to apply new knowledge, a job skills quiz and fireside chats with women providing advice on how they successfully transitioned into technology are all included in the modules.

Dipali Gupta is one such learner, wherein she had to leave her job due to having to relocate with her husband for an international assignment. After five years of break and being able to consider a long-term position, Dipali completed the SheDares program. The program gave her access to trainings as well as mentors, which gave her a huge confidence boost and convinced her that she had the potential to start a new career in tech. After completing the training, Dipali found a new job as an IT project manager and is happily back in an office doing work that she finds fulfilling.

Businesses need to create awareness and engage with community events to break the gender stereotypes and introduce women to a new pool of opportunities available in the tech industry for improving the gender ratio. Workplaces that are more diverse and inclusive produce better outcomes for all. As many women feel unsupported at the workplace which eventually leads to women leaving the workforce, encouraging more women in India to consider a career in technology benefits both women and businesses. To have a good business sense and to strengthen workplace culture, businesses must have a diverse workforce. The world’s most diverse companies are more likely to outperform less diverse peers on profitability. Similarly, SheDares hopes to open up new pathways and possibilities for women in India.

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