Prime Minister Narendra Modi Addressing the nation on Monday on the 75th anniversary of India’s independence from the Red Fort, he underlined that empowerment of women is crucial for the development of the country, which is currently in the decade of digital revolution and innovations.
Modi said: “Be it education or science, the women of the country are at the top… Be it sports or the battlefield, the women of India are marching ahead with a newfound potential and confidence.”
“I see the immense contribution made by women in the coming 25 years, which is much more than the journey of 75 years,” she said.
His Independence Day speech also included the key factors that emerged as the wheel of India’s development vehicle. These include tech innovations as well as startups from Tier 2 and 3 cities.
It is believed that participation of more women in all these areas will boost the development of the country, while India It is projected to be the third largest economy in the world in the next 10 years.
But many believe that there is a gender gap and it is present in the thriving startup ecosystem as well.
To see the bigger picture and understand the graph of women’s participation, as well as how women leaders are equally capable of taking a company to its pinnacle or turning it into a unicorn, can ultimately help India perform at its best. To do so, News18 has spoken to a few people. Women leaders from different industries.
understanding the gender divide
Anjali Rawat, co-founder and director of Design Thinking, Digital Dogs Content & Media, and Misbah Qadri, founder of Monophys Media, both believe that the issue still exists in the country at large, national and multinational companies.
According to Rawat, gender divide is triggered by “culture, attitude and Indian value system of seeing and treating women with special feelings” like extra respect, extra care and extra concern.
“Many roles, especially those that require ‘extra’ effort and sacrifice, are not even open to women. In our desire to be the greater good, we have become more discriminatory. It is not easy to change this soon, She explained. “Activism alone will not change it completely. I think it needs to be turned into a generational value system, I think.”
He highlighted the fact that businesses do not discriminate and neither do the market nor the customer. According to him, the distinction comes from within – the boardroom, the cap table and career decisions.
Similarly, Qadri said that male and female employees with similar educational qualifications and skill sets are usually not compensated at the same level as a male leader is almost always paid more.
“It stems from the fact that the image we see as a ‘leader’ is that of a man. A woman with equal status and authority is perceived as a bully while the man is labeled as outspoken,” she said. “Wage inequality and perspective inequality are the real catalysts of the gender divide in the Indian corporate workforce.”
Describing the challenges, she said: “I am a female founder of a startup and in this journey of founding an organization, after spending 15 years in the industry, I have realized that even now, I need to network consistently. If I want to cut right then who’s in the market and knows about the people in power.”
Dr Divyani Sharma, co-founder of Catalyst Group, and mental health expert and member of the American Clinical Psychologist Association, believes that these issues in the Indian startup ecosystem have narrowed only slightly in 2021 and there are many reasons, some of which are factual, while others may be hidden biases that have been dispelled over time.
“There are fewer female founders in the ecosystem and we have real supply-side issues, particularly in technology, operations and sales, where the talent of experienced professionals is overwhelmingly male,” he said. “Then there are cases where some qualified female professionals may choose not to join a start-up given the unpredictable work schedule and work/life balance issues.”
Amulya Kulkarni Kanade, Head of People Operations, Log9 Materials, believes that the issue of gender divide is a result of women’s representation in the workforce which translates to inequality in pay or progress.
However, according to her: “Today, companies are making a conscious effort to welcome greater representation through various initiatives, such as returning to the workforce after motherhood or a career break, to play a greater role through proactive mentoring and coaching.” We are running focused programs to upskill women leaders. Platform for women to learn from each other and grow.”
Dr. Meryn Liza Jacob, Co-Founder of Green & Beige, told News18 that according to her the gender divide is so deeply ingrained in society that it will require a lot of awareness and education to eradicate it completely.
However, she also believes that this hard line is slowly fading away thanks to the many women who have dared to break these shackles and men who have been supportive of their partners or significant others.
Women in Startups and Unicorn Making
According to Jacob, over the past decade many startups have featured women as the face of a company or as the driving force behind it.
“Thinking deeper reveals a level of dissatisfaction behind traditional methods of business or product delivery that has led them to take this less traveled path. It has made a big difference in the way businesses develop, In which products have a more nurturing touch and businesses become more inclusive,” she said. “Both genders now have a role to play with businesses, especially new startups that are predominantly women-led, There is clearly a balanced approach that has permeated the businesses.”
Log9’s Canada also has a similar view of the importance of women in the ecosystem, as she explicitly states that female forces play an important role in the “building and expansion of organizations”.
“The representation of women is certainly a role model and encourages more women to join the startup ecosystem which is known to be fast-paced and challenging. Women in startups strengthen ‘inclusion’ as a cultural anchor”, he said.
Rawat of Digital Thinking said women are “at the forefront of getting started” across the world and in India as well. Referring to the new organizations created in the last five years that have women founders or co-founders, she said “it is encouraging to see women taking the lead, not just supporting it”.
Quadri cited a study according to which only 15% of Indian unicorns have at least one female founder, while the funds raised by startups founded only by women are reported to be negligible.
“It’s a very dark picture to look at,” he said, pointing to the fact that neighboring China has 70% of the world’s most successful women entrepreneurs.
“We’ve been breaking into the glass ceiling recently,” Qadri said, adding that three of our women are on the global Hurun list of self-made billionaires, but I think that number is very small compared to our population. “
Push for more women in the ecosystem
Qadri believes that while women are bearing the brunt of societal pressures, even in the most modern systems, the surrounding situation is changing and the mindset is evolving.
But he claimed that the pace at which this is happening is still quite sluggish. So he suggested that if India wants to see more women founders and women leaders coming forward, then there should be a collective effort from every section of the society.
Additionally, Qadri said: “Vocational workshops should be organized and encouraged by the Government of India at all levels free of cost at regular intervals to impart the right vocational skills to the women so as not to let themselves become financially deflated at a cost . of a bad business decision.”
Dr Sharma of Catalyst Group, which has an employee ratio of 80% women and 20% men, said more women in the tech sector would help address the problems women face and could lead to more women becoming tech entrepreneurs.
According to her: “Expanding digital knowledge, access to low-income women and providing connected devices will be impressive. Rules should be made to introduce minimum quota for women hiring companies. Tax incentives should be given to tech sector companies that support greater gender equality. ,
In addition, Dr Sharma said that women’s boardroom representation has to be increased to give women more leadership roles.
“Women entrepreneurs are discriminated against while seeking loans and investments. There should be a concerted effort to include more women on the corporate boards of banks and venture capital firms to raise funds for women entrepreneurs,” she said.
Log9’s Canada lays out facts that not only helped her but also others personally and professionally.
He urged women to begin with the word “I”, as he said that “the determination to forge one’s own path is the beginning and the rest, as they say, becomes history”.
Secondly, he talked about the “power of networking” and “a woman supported by her own tribe of women who can stand tall, clap for each other and fix each other’s crowns.” Is”.
Pointing out “advocacy through sponsorship/consultation”, he suggested “a person who can always call your name in a room full of opportunities”. In the end, she advises “learning the experience to help and shape other women with passion and aspiration”.
Jacob believes that the more people talk about the stories of successful women leaders, their struggles, men who supported their female colleagues and leaders who saw the passion as well as the potential in those women, the more People will try to see the big picture. Avoiding gender bias.