Technology is constantly evolving and diversifying into more and more fields. There are new gadgets, equipment, designs that are not only making the world a bit more convenient but also giving us an enhanced experience of everything around us. Professionally speaking this is the field that is also pulling the most money and constantly growing. It is no hidden truth that technology is also the field that is not easily accessible to women. Women in India experience several barriers that usually hinders their entrance into the tech world. Social conditioning often tries to convince them that they are not fit for the technological world. For a woman coming from a marginalised section of the society, there are several layers of oppression that make entry into the technical world inaccessible.
In an economically challenged household, a male son’s education would be preferred and a daughter’s wedding would be preferred over scientific education. There exists a gendered assumption that STEM is for men and women are heavily discouraged from pursuing it as it would affect how they look or how much time they could spend with their families. A marginalised woman pursuing a career in the sciences often does it without the support of her family and there are fewer resources available for her compared to a man. In my own experience, I once saw a man give seven failed attempts to clear medical examination while his sister was allowed only one before she was married off.
Women in India experience several barriers that usually hinders their entrance into the tech world. Social conditioning often tries to convince them that they are not fit for the technical world. For a woman coming from a marginalised section of the society, there are several layers of oppression that make entry into the technical world inaccessible.
These are the constrains that women have to face in order to even think about entering STEM. The lack of role models, mentors or support system means that most women have to achieve the daunting task of entering into the scientific field and making a career in them, on their own. The lack of mentors is honestly one of the biggest reasons why we still hesitate to pursue a career in technology.
This is something that technological leaders around the globe are becoming increasingly aware of and while tech is one of the most inaccessible fields for women, it is also the field for women to be in right now. Several organisations across India have deigned schemes, grants or fellowships that could aid women in the early stages of their tech careers. The need for diversity and gender equality is a recognised need today. There are several scholarships and programmes that are trying to do just that.
Adobe India- Women in Technology Scholarship– This scholarship is excellent not only because it covers your tuition cost for one year but also because it provides an opportunity for a summer internship and mentorship opportunity. One of the things that we lack in tech is role models for young girls and healthy mentorships that could aid them in cultivating their career. We recognise that leaders around the world, in every field, have to pull young women up. Women have to build each other up and this scholarship gives an opportunity to do just that.
Google’s Women Techmakers Scholarship– This scholarship, designed by Google, was created in the memory of Dr Anita Borg who revolutionised that way we think about technology and worked hard to let minority groups and women be a part of the tech world. This scholarship awards a cash prize to the winners and then invites them for a retreat to one of the local google offices.
Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing, India: This celebration is one of the biggest conference held in India for women who are in tech. This conference is a spectacular exposure and the opportunity to really connect to individuals that can build your career. In addition, the entire Anita Borg organisation works towards making tech a more gender diverse workspace so there are tons of resources available on this website.
These grants and fellowships can only be useful once a woman crosses several hurdles prior to these in terms of economical challenges, gender discrimination, familial upheavals and cultural tifts with the people around her. More than these resources, mentorship is the need of the hour.
Navgurukul: For most of the Indian women, being in tech is a dream not only because of social conditioning but also because of lack of access to funds, familial responsibilities and the structure of Indian Academic system which often proves to be discouraging. Navgurukul is an organisation that aims to tackle just that. It is a non-profit that is currently working toward providing girls, women and transwomen from low-income families an opportunity to learn software engineering. It is a fully-funded programme that guarantees placement in multinational corporations and start-ups. For a marginalised woman, this could act as a stepping stone shift the narrative of her life.
There are several other scholarships and funding that are available outside India as well. We can also join Lean In circles in our city to cultivate a community around us.
These are new and upcoming opportunities which is why this is the time for women to be in tech. We have to make use of these existing opportunities and push ourselves up and then pull other women with us. Now, more than ever, we need to diversify this field to create technologies that cater to women and to the marginalised.
These grants and fellowships can only be useful once a woman crosses several hurdles prior to these in terms of economical challenges, gender discrimination, familial upheavals and cultural tufts with the people around her. More than these resources, mentorship is the need of the hour. We need more women who are already in this field to mentor other young women. It is only then we all can rise together.
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