Women’s participation in the technology field is growing and Aruna Sundararajan, secretary in the ministry of electronics and information technology, gave us the low-down at the She Leads India summit. Currently, women in tech in India constitute about 28.5% in the sector, she said.
Talking about the IT industry and the percentage of women in it, she said, “IT sector has 30% women in it. If in Kerala, from where I come, 63% women are IT engineers, then why can’t we have 63% women in the IT sector? We are nowhere close to it but it is possible for us to achieve that number.”
The 1982 Kerala-cadre IAS officer also shared why diversity is needed to shape the future of corporate India.
On being a novice and taking a plunge in the tech, Sundararajan advised, “Don’t be intimidated by the fact that you do not know something. How are we ever going to know if we keep thinking that we don’t know it? We need to demand to know that our participation is central for growth.”
She added, “We need to create spaces for each other, whether it is at homes or workplace. How is it to be a matriarch who is being a negative force and restricting young women to be a certain way?”
The corporate sector is majorly male-dominated and the growth of diversity is at a very slow pace. The reason for this, Sundararajan said, is that we do not celebrate women’s stories as much. As there is not much inspiration, the aim of women is also not raised higher. She speaks about encouraging women’s stories of success in the media much more today than ever before.
“We must celebrate every single woman on every single occasion who achieves anything,” -Aruna Sundararajan
“Fortunately, in India we are seeing signs of changes,” she added.
“I increasingly see change in the technology sector. Tech is a big opportunity for those who have access to it. And I am working towards bringing in accessibility of tech to every woman. It is tremendous to see that women today can do banking on their mobile phones and that they have become independent in that sense,” said Sundararajan.
Sundararajan’s viewpoint on diversity in IT and tech do raise some pertinent questions. She is actively participating in bringing in gender equality factor in these industries by initiatives like women-centric incubators, mentorship programmes and policy changes at the government level.