This forum aims to boost women's careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sector
The Women In Tech (WIT) forum that was launched in 2018 to enable women to take up careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sector is looking to build on the corporate partnerships to attract more women in pure technology jobs.
The forum has educated about 220,000 girl students against its target of 100,000 girls, mentored over 13,000 girl students across Indian schools and rewarded 12 meritorious girls with scholarships to pursue engineering courses.
Anuranjita Kumar, Head-Human Resources, RBS International Hubs said that the idea is to get more women to pursue a pure technology career.
“We have been able to make reach out to reach out to 220,000 women as against the target of 100,000 women in the first year. Now, the idea is to expand it to get more corporates on board,” she added. This initiative was launched in 2018. Kumar said the idea was to target women at an early stage itself.
About 93 percent girls surveyed in India between 12 to 14 years consider STEM-related careers early on. However, 38 percent Indian teenage girls believe that they are ‘less likely’ to take up STEM because the industry is ‘male-dominated’ and many others drop out before reaching leadership levels.
Women make up 40 percent of the world’s workforce, according to the World Bank. But only 21 percent of executives in technology are women.
Kumar explained there are a series of challenges faced by women when it comes to STEM-related careers. These include lack of mentors, role models, gender bias in the workplace, unequal growth opportunities and unequal pay for the same skills.
"We aim to target schools in particular since this is where most of the career decisions are taken. Hence, schools will be the first target segment," she added.
To address this phenomenon, RBS institutionalized the WomenInTech (WiT) forum in 2018, to make improvements and activate an industry-wide movement to encourage women to pursue and sustain careers in STEM.
The forum has been constructed to ensure it is scalable and replicable for widespread adoption and impact across India. This enables the forum to leverage a strong partner network to get the best minds to enlist, engage and empower the women leaders of tomorrow.
Here, the collaborative industry forum tackles the gap through four work-stream. These include schools/colleges to influence girl students at an early stage through immersive experiences and role models, scholarships, mentoring through industry role models and second careers to tap into an existing pool of women with the requisite skills.
The industry initiative was conceived in collaboration with corporates like IBM, Amazon, Mastercard, Sapient, Deloitte, Volvo, JC Penny, ANZ, Uber and TCS, academia like the Indian Institutes of Technology and Ashoka University and other institutions like Literacy India, Avtar and Timeless Life Skills Foundation.
At the time of inception, the forum started with 15 members and had a target of educating 100,000 girl students. Today, the initiative has over 150 members from more than 50 organisations, 50 plus schools, 10 plus activists and 10 plus independent bodies have joined the forum.
In 2018, IBM launched the Bengaluru Chapter, in March 2019 Mastercard launched the Pune chapter and the forum will have another chapter being launched by Amazon in Chennai, and soon in Hyderabad too.In the coming months, RBS will continue to partner corporate houses to scale up the impact of WiT with multiple interventions, like career fairs for returning women, speed mentoring fairs. Kumar explained there need to be favourable policies to ensure that workplaces are conducive for working women to aspire for senior level roles.
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