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Dear Women Techies, Don’t Apologise For Your Career Choices Or Gender!

Source | YKA : By Merril Diniz

We recently saw surreal images of a woman parliamentarian breastfeeding her baby while answering a question in the Icelandic parliament. “I could choose to yank her off and leave her crying with another representative, or I could bring her with me, and I thought that would be less disruptive,” she shared candidly when to her surprise, the video went viral.

It’s hard to imagine such a scenario in India, without some sort of riot breaking out. Yet, the perks of taking your baby to work, can’t be taken lightly in this day and age, especially when we try to understand why women drop out of the workforce.

Jaya Singla, a Senior Quality Analyst with ThoughtWorks India, will testify to this reality. Hers was the first “Thought Child” at the tech company’s Gurgaon office.

“When the office was being set up, suggestions were taken and mine was to have a baby room as I was not at all keen on leaving my son in a daycare,” recalls Jaya who happens to be the first employee at ThoughtWorks India’s Gurgaon office. After the birth of her son, Jaya took five months off and when she returned to work, she took him along with her, every single day for the next two years.

She recalls, “Sometimes I would feel stressed if he cried during a meeting. But my colleagues were supportive and would help out a lot. In fact, his first steps happened in the office, and it was captured on camera by a colleague who later sent the video to me.”

According to Jaya, it is this culture of supportiveness and collaborativeness, that enabled her to stick around at her job.

When it comes to women’s participation, ThoughtWorks, in general, has a stellar record:

  • The company’s Chief Technical Officer Dr Rebecca Parsons is a woman.
  • ThoughtWorks’ largest office in India, in Bangalore, is headed by a woman.
  • One of every ThoughtWorks India office’s Technology Principal is a woman, and two of the five Office Principals is a woman.
  • 34% of ThoughtWorks India’s employees are women and of the techies, 33% are women.
  • 28% of 2016’s lateral hires and 43% of graduate hires in 2016, were women.

Phew! In the tech world, this is an impressive record, one that has been cultivated through a combination of tangible factors such as maternity leave, flexible hours, work-from-home and intangible ones such as a “culture of trust”, equal opportunities and nurturing through mentorships. Yet, the niche group of senior (with 6+ years of tech experience) women is relatively low, despite their success in attracting good talent.

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