The country’s gender inequality is difficult to tackle, as women in India have a low 27 per cent rate of workforce participation.
Chennai: India is inconsistent when it comes to women advancement in the workforce, finds a global study. While India has a low 27 per cent women participation in workforce, it has a higher-than-average share of women with artificial intelligence skill sets.
Heidrick and Struggles, a global provider of executive search, leadership assessment and development, found that India has an inconsistent history of women’s advancement, shaped by cultural norms that strongly favour males from birth. The country’s gender inequality is difficult to tackle, as women in India have a low 27 per cent rate of workforce participation. The report finds that the low participation rate is attributed to various cultural factors, as well as challenges faced by women in the workplace, such as healthcare access, gender bias, and lack of flexible working opportunities.
But there have been some positive trends as well. Indian has higher-than-average share of women with artificial intelligence skill sets (22 per cent) compared to other countries.
“Thanks to the growing involvement of leaders committed to creating a more inclusive work environment, we are seeing a growing trend of more women becoming equipped with the latest technology skill sets. This indicates an increasing number of women in India are entering a space which was commonly seen as a male-dominated domain,” Gauri Padmanabhan, Partner, Heidrick & Struggles said.
The study found that the government has taken a number of initiatives such as furthering girls’ education, improved healthcare, and maternity benefits, which tackle some of the basic challenges faced by women in the workplace. The Sebi has formulated guidelines for the inclusion of women on the boards of listed companies by early 2020 and companies are also implementing their own programmes. Many IT companies are computer programming boot camp specifically for women developers who have left the field but are interested in reskilling and rejoining the technical workforce.
“Most academic excellence entrance examinations have been showcasing the growing dominance of women amongst rank holders and across all streams including science and engineering hence the findings are not surprising as well as equally welcoming. However the question that arise in my mind is how many of these women actually find their way into the active formal workforce as well as stay there,’ said Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and executive vice president of TeamLease Services.
Though Diversity and Inclusion programmes in Asia are focusing on women in leadership, race and ethnicity and sexual orientation, in India the programmes are dominated by women-focused initiatives. Programmes focused on race and ethnicity and LGBTQ engagement are still at a nascent stage in the country.
“Going forward, Indian businesses need to widen the scope of D&I with the objective of including the LGBTQ community and differently-abled people. Tackling gender disparity in India is currently the foremost concern, given our cultural norms. But as women break barriers and step forward in every area, we will gradually be able to create pathways for inclusion of other communities and this will indeed be welcome progress,” said Padmanabhan.