The Eden Of XQ
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The Eden Of XQ

Women In Tech And Beyond- The Change We Need

We have a long way to go as a society

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

After reflecting for a while with all the questions and perspectives I put forth in my previous article, ‘Where Are All The Women In Tech?, here are some points I want to conclude with. These thoughts deserved a separate article in itself.

Take a moment to think about them, if they make any sense, and if they can inspire a change in you.

I would highly recommend you read the previous article to get the complete context.

To summarise a few insights-

  • Women were never alien to technology. In fact, there have been pioneering women scientists/engineers throughout our history who made critical contributions to STEM fields.
  • I think the primary reason for very less representation of women in tech was not because they couldn’t pursue it for its difficulty, but because of subconscious bias and stereotypes in our society.
  • Every woman who quits tech has her own reasons. Be it family, society or other priorities, humans are very diverse to generalize things to a single reason. The sad part is, many a time, it could have been avoided, if only, society understood our women folk better.
  • Another major problem that history showed us is the lack of proper recognition and awareness of women’s achievements compared to their male counterparts.

Many of the thoughts I discuss henceforth could also be applicable to women beyond the tech domain.

Breaking down the social & corporate perception

Our society is a problem, and as I mentioned before, the social atmosphere needs to be replaced entirely, and YOU can be a front runner in doing that.

  • As the saying goes, “You can’t be what you can’t see”. Every successful woman’s story is worthy to be heard, in schools, in colleges, and other professional/social gatherings. Textbooks must talk about them. Media should keep them in the spotlight. Recognize your co-workers, as and when you can, discuss disruptions made by women, far and wide, from remote corners of the world. Every human must know these stories. Recognition is important, and I’d bet, it will be the game-changer.
  • Quotas will not solve the inherent problem, but inspiring role models will. Maybe, I would prefer to live in a society where a woman can pursue and succeed in tech, fair and square in her own accord and freedom, rather than via an artificial culture that tries to push them into tech but really does nothing much to solve the problems they face when they are in, be it gender pay gap, maternal harassment (Yes, it is really a thing, even in this civilized world), gender bias and more. By giving Quotas, aren’t we fostering a thought that they need them to succeed? Do you wonder if someone would face an inferiority complex by using such means to get opportunities? Stuff like this is what prompts women to underestimate themselves. A better option for empowerment would be to provide special financial assistance to help women pursue their goals.
  • Stats are not the right metrics to measure progress. Don’t look for them. What good did all these special programs focussing to improve them do? I feel like everything is being forced to get those stats. Create genuine interest in students. Let it be an open choice. Awareness is important, but awareness of only what you want to show is lethal. Students must be presented with all kinds of options they have, with neither of them glorified unfairly. It might be paradoxical but, I think that will automatically increase diversity in tech as well as in other domains. It’s like one is jinxing by putting in too much attention at tech.
  • It is okay if someone prioritizes something else to leave their tech job. Of course, special provisions must be encouraged to support women in various phases of their personal life. What I feel is, no one should be affected by a counter stereotype that “tech is not just for men” and that should not be the reason why they are pursuing it. Pursue it because you are interested in it.
  • We all talk about how women’s representation in leadership is less, and hence their needs are not heard properly or taken care of promptly. This is true, and I do wish gender diversity increases in leadership, but that must happen naturally, not by hiring people just to make it happen. Also, what I do advocate for is, there must be male leaders as well, who can completely acknowledge the context at hand. To rephrase it, we really need humans in tech, who can truly understand each other, irrespective of any gender, nationality, ethnicity, etc. Having the initiative to make this happen could help men learn about WIT, and appreciate their women counterparts better.
  • Marriage is a barrier, but we can change that. Consider a situation where the husband and wife work at different locations. Who do you think will quit their job so that they can stay together and raise a family? Imagine another situation of a working mother who has to manage the household chores, alongside. She leaves office early to attend to her kids, takes leave for providing for the family, and still works the best of her ability. While her male counterparts put in those late nights and extra hours to their work without having to worry about a lot of things. Who do you think will get better promotions and hike? You know the answer. It is expected, and expectations like this are what didn’t allow that wide-eyed girl to even dream. The society has an expectation of what women should be doing. In turn, women may feel that’s what they should be doing. I do hope, the generation that follows us will not face this. If you can relate to this bias, simply break it. Women must begin to think of their goals outside of this spectrum and men must change to support it.
  • If you ever meet any successful women in tech, what would be the first question you would ask her? How were you able to manage both family and work? What were the sacrifices (with the context of family) you made to reach where you are today? Honestly, don’t ask questions like this. You are simply nurturing a thought process that, it is how things should be if a woman is successful as if it is a pre-requisite. Maybe today it is, but if you keep highlighting it, forever it may be. No one asks a man these kinds of questions. Ask about the technical challenges, ask about how education or certain schemes helped them, or ask about their support pillars and mentors in their journey, rephrase questions to be positive, and spread similar vibes.

I don’t really have a universal solution. But I am self-aware of all these aspects, something I may have picked up growing up. I am also aware that many other people out there aren’t, and that brings me to my next argument, our education system has failed us, big time.

Changing the education system

Part of the reason for this dire state is our own education system.

  • When I was a kid, there was a depiction of women that existed everywhere. From the textbooks and stories I read, the movies or TV series I watched, women were homemakers and men went to work. It’s a strong symbol to expose to young children. Only later, in my teenage years and adulthood would I explore other ideas and perceptions. Even in middle school textbooks, whenever these topics were covered, they were very shallow and never addressed underlying problems the society as a whole had. Everything here needs to be reviewed and changed. The syllabus, the kind of books children read, and what teachers teach.
  • As an educational institute, don’t just talk about all this but act. You already know what you should do. You have the power and resources to do it too. Listen to your students. If women’s security is your justification for unfair rules, it just shows your incompetence. Deploy secure surveillance systems, have emergency response teams and extra guards on patrol. Educate the youth to tackle distress situations, and progress forward. It is hard work, but that is the right direction to put your effort into. (Referencing my previous discussion on gender inequality at Universities in India)
  • Some things are taken for granted based on what we see since childhood. The reason I lay emphasis on this is, that people don’t think about such things, they don’t care. It was never their job. It’s that mindset I want to kill. For example, cooking food by default is promoted as a woman’s thing to such extent that men would feel out of place or weird to cook, and women would feel, maybe that’s the norm, that’s what they are meant to do. Sanitation is another problem. People don’t even think that they should think about such stuff, because someone else handled it since their birth. If that’s the case, we will not be able to appreciate, understand and support each other. How to change this scenario? I think schools must unanimously teach children stuff like cooking, cleaning, etc. If a school can afford advanced chemistry labs to teach experiments I am never going to use in my life, they might as well have a cooking lab. There must be sessions to clean the classrooms and corridors. Children should be encouraged to wash their own utensils, or do their laundry. I think nothing in this world deserves to be taken for granted. Such activities help us cultivate that mindset which will ultimately build a better society.

“Men In Household” is a movement we need

Maybe, men are the ones who should change. I think there should be campaigns and gatherings that encourage men to take up household work. In most cases, that’s what puts additional pressure on a working woman. There should be conferences about it. Companies must have special policies to enable men to do such stuff. I don’t imply that men should take it over entirely and not work or something, but they should spend some time to share such responsibilities. If there is a good division of work in a family, most of the problems are solved.

Sometimes, all women need is a little support from their male counterparts/family to create wonders.

This may be a scenario applicable to women who quit their jobs to raise their children or look after their families.

Think about it. Imagine, if she gets to wake up to breakfast being served to her, and then get ready for work, spend an entire productive day at the office knowing with relief that there is someone watching over her kids exactly like how she would, and knows that dinner will be ready by the time she reaches home.

She is carefree, secure, and has the attention to think about things she would otherwise never do. In that world, imagine if all men acknowledged the differences, respected their female counterparts and if the society ensured that she doesn’t need to worry about what they think, about late nights or about being safe. It’s a fairy tale, but if at least half of the days of the week were like this, that would be great progress.

And guess what, that’s like a normal every day for most family men out there. Would you agree?

If you are a man reading this, I hope you have the empathy to be the change that women wish to see. If you are a woman reading this, I hope you have the strength and support to manage your time effectively. If you are a parent reading this, I hope you teach your kids all these perspectives and empower them to break stereotypes.

And finally, there is one more point to add. Technology is also a solution. Today, societies are evolving to utilize external services for things they don’t have time for. Be it, cleaning the house, washing dishes, laundry, cooking food, and even caring for kids, and other household chores, you have services you can trust in. 10 years ago, things were way difficult. As the economy grows, people will have money to support them. Be aware of such services, and utilize them effectively. It’s definitely worth spending than quitting.

Nevertheless, the inherent change of mindset among people that I discuss is quintessential.

What do you think? Do you have anything else to add to these points or any counter-arguments?

Endnotes- Special thanks to Aishwarya Nair for sharing some useful insights about Women In Tech.




A collection of stories, poetry, and other literary works written by XQ. No part of this publication can be republished or reused without prior permission. All rights reserved.

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