A group of women in Technopark plan to start a chapter of eWIT, a forum that aims at empowering women working in the IT industry
Women who work in the IT field are among the most empowered in the country. Right? Not really, claim a group of women who work in the IT/ IT Enabled Services (ITES) sector in the city. “It’s true that, to a large extent, women in this sector are financially and educationally much ahead of others. But that is not enough,” says Rina Vivekanadan, Managing Director of Global Partners, one of the handful of top level women executives in Technopark.
A well-founded issue, it seems, because there are actually very few women – less than two percent of the total – who occupy top level positions across the 250-plus IT companies at Technopark. Realising the need of the hour, a group of women working at Technopark have come together to open a local chapter of eWIT (abbreviation for ‘Empowering Women in IT’), a Chennai-based forum for women techies to gather and share best practices, harness the existing rich experience and provide guidance and mentorship for women in the field to evolve and grow in both their professional and personal lives. “We seek to provide a platform where women who have made it to the top, share their experiences and serve as role models and sources of inspiration to each other,” says Rina, who is spearheading the initiative.
eWIT has a core team that comprises top women executives in Technopark such as Sindhuja Varma, who heads HR L&D in Allianz, Indu Lakshmy, Chief Operating Officer, Device Driven, Rani Ramesh, General Manager, CCS-ELUX, Lakshmi Nair, Delivery Manager ILP, Tata Consultancy Services, and Radhika Vishwanathan, Manager (CLS), Allianz, besides an extended team of 20 others from various other companies in Technopark.
Says Rina: “I have always wanted to be part of an activity that helped to empower women. In 2009, I was invited by eWIT Chennai, to participate in their role model series. I was given the opportunity to share my journey and also discovered during the process that there are many women out there who may have walked through the road less travelled and are now leading successful lives. And they all had two things in common – a desire to succeed in their careers and a tenacity to overcome obstacles. I wanted to start a similar forum in Thiruvananthapuram. At about the same time Rakesh Gupta, the Managing Director of Allianz in Technopark, was also thinking along the same lines, with focus on diversity and gender inclusivity. We all got together and the chapter evolved.” Already the core team has had several brainstorming sessions and the forum is all set to be formally inaugurated on September 14 at Travancore Hall, Park Centre.
eWIT, which has corporate and individual members, plans to conduct seminars, knowledge sessions, workshops, lectures, and online courses to enhance their colleagues’ skills and capabilities, besides mentoring programmes that identify and nurture talent. “One of the biggest challenges that women in the IT field face is balancing their career with their home life. Perhaps that’s why a lot of women cannot or chose not to progress up the corporate ladder. eWIT aims at helping these women in their quest for a better work-life balance and also enable an environment for networking, which eludes most women in the field. Primarily, we want to expand the women workforce at all management levels in the IT industry,” says Radhika.“Companies do recognise the need for gender inclusivity and most of them have been very enthusiastic about the idea of eWIT,” adds Radhika.
eWIT is not going to be an exclusive women’s forum, though. “We want it to be an inclusive forum with the active participation of our male colleagues. They also need to understand that women cannot continue being isolated and insulated,” says Radhika.
Women in IT/ITES at Technopark
1.6 per cent – top level
10 per cent – senior management
25 per cent – managerial role
40 per cent – freshers
Source: Park Centre, Technopark