I have experienced many beautiful things working in technology. I met interesting people, learnt quiete a lot from them, and grew professionally. Undoubtedly, the Asha who started this career 15 years ago is not the same as now. One of the many things I comprehended – and is why I am writing this article – is the importance of women in tech and how essential it is to #BreakTheBias imposed on us.
When I was a child, I was fascinated by the English newsreaders on television. I remember that they inspired me because they looked very knowledgeable about everything happening in the world. Years later, this passion for learning how things used to happen made me join my engineering career in one of the best colleges in India.
In my university days, I realized that technology could enable people to live better. It is such an important industry for our present and future, that is why the presence of women in this field is fundamental.
Common Gender Bias in Technology
I must admit that during all these years working for large and smaller organisations, I have lived and seen common gender biases. Whether intended or unconscious, it is essential to recognize the prejudices and call them out when necessary.
Some people think that “a woman is responsible for the family, she might not be able to give her 100% to the job, and she will not consider her career important”.
The truth is that both men and women have similar aspirations. It’s just that women often take a back seat because ‘they are expected to take care of the family’, ‘they are expected to be nice to everyone’, ‘they are expected not to be bold’, and so on.
I think that women are incredibly resilient. We are stronger than who we think we are; we can make commitments and stick to those commitments, and we can take on more load and multi-task.
I had to break some prejudices too. Being a ‘woman in tech’ and ‘a woman of color’ was the first. And that was not the only one: people mistook my ‘self-respect’ and ‘live by my principles’ as being ‘arrogant’ and ‘rigid’. Why? Because of the general bias that a woman expressing her opinions confidently is perceived to be ‘arrogant.’
I always communicate my thoughts clearly and honestly, and I always gave recommendations on what was right for the company and/or the team – without holding back.
Over time, I grew more confident and stronger than ever. I always resisted such situations, and people realised the value in my recommendations and started respecting me for that.
It took time for me to break it, but persistence and confidence made me stay there.
It’s time to #BreakTheBias in tech
Empowering women will make the world a much better place to live. In India, there’s a saying, “If a boy is educated, then only he is educated. If a girl is educated, the entire family will be educated.”
I strongly believe in that. Women’s employment has a lot of positive impacts on everyone in the family. While it may not be very evident in developed countries, women’s empowerment is critical to society’s progress in certain countries or parts of the world.
Today, I’m proud to be part of Soprano, where about 30% of our Soprano team is female and is growing. It feels inspiring because I have seen women’s representation grow significantly within Soprano, especially at the leadership level.
I think that it’s important to give flexibility to women in the workplace and provide them with opportunities to lead. We can #BreakTheBias by making an environment safer for women, where they can make mistakes and allow them to learn from their mistakes; a place where they can express their opinions without ‘biases’ and without ‘prejudices’ in a much more constructive way.
Fortunately, there have been many positive changes in this area since I started working in technology. There is still a long way to go, but I believe that talking about these issues is a big step towards an equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination.
For all the women that want to start a career in tech or another field, I will recommend something that worked for me: ‘JUST GO FOR IT’. ‘Be bold, be authentic, and be yourself’; over time, you will be valued for what you are regardless of your gender.