Women in STEM making their mark

There is still a huge gender disparity in workspaces

March 08, 2022 09:58 pm | Updated 10:47 pm IST - Bengaluru

Charu Srinivasan

Charu Srinivasan | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

There has been a persistent issue of underrepresentation of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) jobs despite calls for increasing their representation in the workforce. Battling the gender gap and stereotypes, more women are now pursuing and excelling in two of the most lucrative STEM fields — engineering and mathematics.

“While it is true that STEM fields need more gender diversity, I would like to acknowledge the intentionality and focus needed to address this complex problem. Over the years, I’ve learnt to use my voice effectively, listen intently to diverse perspectives, and be willing to change my approaches to drive the best outcomes. I learnt to rely on my support system and actively seek feedback on how I need to show up differently,” says Charu Srinivasan, VP of Engineering leading the India Development Centre development team for all of Compute and Cloud Native technologies.

According to reports, 43% of graduates in STEM are women, which is the highest in the world, but, a mere 14% of them step into the world of employment in these fields, creating a huge gender disparity in workspaces.

The positive side is that more women are showing an inclination towards jobs in sports technology, coding, and machine learning. Ed-tech start-ups such as UpGrad and Unacademy are also playing an important role in creating awareness among women. “Men have been dominant on a global front when it comes to sports as well as being the spectators. But one must not discount the massive opportunity that lies in engaging female sports fans as those interested to contribute to sports technology sectors with their STEM expertise. While interest in sports is vital to do well in sports tech jobs, what ultimately defines success is to drive a complex engineering problem and ability to relate to the product one is working on,” says Rachita Choudhary, VP – Backend Engineering at Dream 11.

Furthermore, women in aviation too are setting benchmarks to break away from what contained them and venture towards a predominantly male-dominated field. Inspiring is the fact that the Indian aviation industry is the largest employer of female pilots, with a growing 12.4%, as against a global average of 5.4%. However, women have their own struggle stories to narrate. “The potential hardships that the field of aviation was perceived to have were evident to me as soon as I began pursuing UG degree in Aeronautical Engineering, where I was the only woman in my batch. Several people at the time believed that an aircraft maintenance engineer’s role is too physically intensive for a woman to thrive in, but it took women like me and a few others to prove them wrong,” recounts Madhu Sood, Lead Compliance, Engineering Department, Air Asia.

Capt. Indra Mohan

Capt. Indra Mohan | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Similar is the experience of a female pilot who dared to dream. “The world has a stereotypical mindset as far as a woman’s career is concerned. As women, we need to have unwavering determination and fortitude in the face of an obstacle to stand strong and achieve what we deserve. I hope, with time, an equitable gender balance is achieved in all STEM fields and women take the initiative to “break the biases”, said Capt. Indra Mohan, Air Asia India.

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