Across the world, more and more women are shaking up the ‘old boy’s network’, walking into boardrooms with panache and proving themselves in their respective fields. In the city’s IT/ ITES sector too this trend is in full swing and there is a small but significant number of women at the helm.
In Technopark for example, according to data collected by the Park Centre, a total of 1.6 per cent of the women workforce are top-level executives and some 10 per cent are in senior management. “Perhaps we’re seeing more women in the boardrooms because the patriarchal mindset of society is fast changing. No longer does society expect us to sit at home,” says Gayatri S. Ajith, chief executive officer (CEO) of Schogini Systems, a 14-year-old company that creates gaming and educational applications for mobiles. Gayatri, a former student of St. Thomas Central School and a graduate of Manipal University, took over as CEO a year ago.
Subhas Hariprasad, managing director of Aqlanza Infosystems at Technopark adds: “Nowadays women are being bought up in a different way from previous generations. We now have more freedom to think and act independently.” Subhas, who has a masters degree in computer application from Anna University, started the company in 2009, with her husband, Hariprasad, and friend, Anishad.
Not surprisingly, most of the executives seem to be of an opinion that gender has ceased to matter while running an IT business. “Personally, I’ve never faced any bias or challenges because of my gender. In fact, I’ve always thought that my gender has been one of my strengths. Now that may be because in the IT field, traditionally, there has always been a significant presence of women,” says Gayatri. Adds Subhas: “I am the one in my company who often goes for meetings and I’ve always had a positive response. Of course, it depends on your attitude too.” Jeeja Deviprasad, CEO of Techvantage, an IT solutions firm at Technopark, which she started in 2010, after stints at various multi-national companies, seconds their opinion. “It is actually a fair system. I don’t think that it is too different when a woman runs a firm from when a man runs one. We all face the same challenges and the same processes.”
Rina V. Anand, managing director, Global BPO Partners, who also spearheads the local chapter of Chennai-based organisation eWit (‘Empowering Women in IT’) elaborates: “Each role brings with it, a set of challenges peculiar to that role. The climate in Technopark was and is conducive for women to succeed and excel in what they do. It is important to have the right attitude to effect change. The key to success is keeping intact those humanistic traits such as being approachable, honest and genuine. This approach works wonders in creating leaders who will be able to convince their team that the customer is key to everything and our role is to ensure that we adhere to timely accurate delivery.”
Nevertheless, all the women admit that there are certain challenges, the biggest being having to juggling home with professional responsibilities. “In my opinion that is the only challenge. I can’t even imagine going ahead with the support of my family,” says Gayatri. “Almost 50 per cent of my staff are women and time and again they prove that they are masters at balancing work with home life,” says Jeeja. Rina too feels it’s a balancing act. “I am blessed with a supportive husband and understanding family. My work demands long hours and my children work around their timings to ensure that I could spend at least a couple of hours with them during the weekdays. Any disposable time would be family time. My husband or children never made me feel that I was not spending time with them, though I suffered from guilt pangs. So, it was not a struggle but a balancing act on a tight rope!”