Preethi strongly believes that helping women advance to leadership positions is not about giving women special treatment or expecting them to do more but actually treating them equally and giving them a fair chance
“Women are judged by what they have already done, whereas men are often promoted based on their potential. This is detrimental especially when it comes to promoting/hiring women in leadership positions because their potential is ignored until it is proven.”
Director of Innovation,
The International Women’s Day was celebrated with the customary pomp and fanfare this month a few days back. Despite all the buzz surrounding women’s empowerment and conversations on gender diversity in tech, women are still underrepresented and often discriminated against in the tech industry, if we go by the numbers. But the silver-lining in the cloud has been the recent strides taken by the fair sex in various walks of life, including the IT industry.
In commemoration of the International Women’s Day and in celebration of and gratitude to Women’s Power, we have embarked upon cataloguing the achievements and voices of leading women in the tech industry.
In a special interaction with SME Channels, Preethi Srinivasan, Director of Innovation, Druva, reveals her views on gender parity; how women can reach leadership positions in the IT industry; what it takes to handle business-critical roles; and how to strike a balance between personal life and critical professional roles. Edited excerpts…
Do you think the world today has been able to attain gender parity? What needs to be done to attain this?
While the world has not been able to attain gender parity, we are making (slow) progress. We have made good progress with awareness, but awareness is only the first step. To attain gender parity:
Society has to overcome the bias and treat women equally. Bias hinders womens’ access to opportunities to advance their careers and that in-turn hinders the development of the society itself.
Organizations have to truly execute on the proven fact that diversity of thought is critical for the success of their organizations.
The gender wage gap is real. The World Economic Forum notes that women earn on average just 68% of what men are paid for the same work, and just 40% on average in countries with the least gender parity. It is critical that women must receive equal pay for work of equal value for gender parity to be achieved.
In the IT industry, there are still very few women in leadership positions in India as well as in the world. What should women do to reach leadership positions?
The fundamental bias is the assumption that women need to achieve more than their male colleagues to reach leadership positions. Organizations should reflect if they are hiring and promoting women without bias. Women are judged by what they have already done, whereas men are often promoted based on their potential. This is detrimental especially when it comes to promoting/hiring women in leadership positions because their potential is ignored until it is proven. Helping women advance to leadership positions is not about giving women special treatment or expecting them to do more but actually treating them equally and giving them a fair chance.
On your journey as a career woman, how have you braced yourself to handle business-critical roles?
Why would I have to “brace myself” for business-critical roles? I embrace business-critical roles because I know I can make a meaningful impact on the business. I combine can-do optimism with the must-do responsibility. In order to achieve gender parity, these business-critical roles and opportunities should be given to the most deserving, regardless of gender. If that is not the case, I am not afraid to ask for these roles and opportunities.
Working women in IT industry are still juggling with enormous challenges at workplaces, what should they do to break the bias and overcome those challenges in order to be successful?
Ironically, the bigger bias here is laying the responsibility to “break the bias” on women. Breaking the bias is not just womens’ responsibility. It is the responsibility of both men and women. We are all in this together. Women break the bias by taking risks. We all must break the bias by not judging women harshly when they take risks. Women break the bias on applying for leadership roles. We all must break the bias by giving women the opportunity to fairly compete for those leadership roles. Women break bias by sitting at the table. We all must break the bias by making space for women to sit at the table.
How do you balance your personal life and critical professional roles?
Work life balance is a myth. Personal life doesn’t stop between 9-5 and work life doesn’t end at 5. Not all exciting work happens between 9 to 5 either. Professional life and personal life are not on opposite sides of the scale for us to “balance” them. Having said that, at different periods, one demands more attention over the other. Prioritization is the key. Prioritize work that will help you and your organization grow. When it comes to personal life, I prioritize quality time over quantity by being fully engaged with my family during the time I am with them. I do not always strive for perfection but I consistently strive for excellence.