Women in Indian tech: a journey of promise

A look at how India’s tech sector invests in helping female talent reach their greatest potential.

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India’s path towards gender parity has been a rocky one. In 2021, the country dropped 28 places on the WEF Gender Gap Index to 140th among 156 countries. Labour participation fell from 24.8% to 22.3%, and women held only 14.6% of senior and managerial roles with just 8.9 % of firms with women as top managers.

The country’s technology sector however presents a more hopeful picture. With 1.5 million women, tech companies in India are the largest employer of women in the organised private sector according to National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) research. In 2020  more than one in three employees were women, a definite improvement from the 20% of 2004 and 1.5x times the participation rate for India Inc., as a whole. The number of women in executive roles has also doubled over the last three years.

The reasons for better gender parity in tech

In the mid-2000s, NASSCOM encouraged the Indian tech sector to launch gender diversity initiatives to tackle growing talent shortages. Since then, the industry has made steady progress in hiring and nurturing female talent. Currently, 60%+ of mid-size and large companies have formal diversity programs.

As STEM education is highly valued in India, and technology is accepted as a socially approved career for women, partly in response to the industry’s initiatives, this has led to a considerable talent pool. Today, the country turns out more female STEM graduates than some developed nations and women formed 44% of net hiring by the Indian tech sector in FY 2020, according to NASSCOM.  

On the leadership front as well, the last few years have seen far more frequent announcements of a woman moving into the 'corner office' of Indian tech operations. And this has happened as the result of some informed policy-making.

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