woman business

OU research informs prominent IT gender report in India

Open University researchers have co-produced the latest edition of a high-profile report on the state of the IT industry in India and female participation in particular.

The OU’s researchers produced the spring edition of the 2017 Women in IT Scorecard-India with the support of India’s leading IT trade association, NASSCOM. This aims to improve understanding of the make-up of women in the information technology sector in India. Researchers presented at NASSCOM Diversity and Inclusion summit 2017.

IT has become the flagship industry and the bedrock of India’s recent presence on the global stage. The sector has relatively high, and increasing, numbers of women in IT in India in comparison to the small and falling numbers of women in this sector in the Western world.

The OU project behind the spring Scorecard-India, is Gender, Skilled Migration and IT  funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It considers why the IT sector in India manages to both employ and retain women in highly-skilled roles, comparing the experiences of women in the IT sector in India and the UK. It will also gain insights from migrant women and men who move between the two countries to understand both the gender norms and the best practice in each country.

Prof Parvati Raghuram

Prof Parvati Raghuram

The project is being led by Professor of Geography and Migration, Parvati Raghuram, with co-investigator and Senior Lecturer in Computing and Communications Dr Clem Herman.

The NASSCOM Scorecard-India provides data on women’s employment patterns and leadership pathways in India and situates this in an international context. The OU research draws on internationally accredited and comparable data, as well as a bespoke survey with IT firms. It lays the foundation for understanding the similarities and differences between women’s participation in the IT sector in India.

Professor Raghuram, said:

We are very pleased to be able to present the spring edition of the 2017 Women in IT Scorecard-India. Perhaps surprisingly, what is also notable is the relatively high and increasing numbers of women in IT in India in comparison to the small and falling numbers of women in this sector in the Western world.

“This report, for the first time, provides some of the statistics behind this pattern. It provides data on women’s employment patterns and leadership pathways within the India industry and situates it in a global context."

The research found that:

  • there are many women in STEM in India compared to the rest of the world; this puts gender diversity in Indian IT on a firm foundation;
  • maternity seems to act as a barrier to career progression; and
  • the number of women in senior management is higher than in other BRIC countries and also has a positive trajectory.

Recommendations in the report are for:

  • individual companies to train line managers and empower them to support and retain women employees;
  • industry to work together to support women’s re-entry into the labour market after maternity; and
  • other sectors in India, and IT sectors globally, to use the experiences of the Indian IT sector in order to improve their gender diversity.

Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, Peter Horrocks, said:

With this initiative, we hope to learn from the Indian experience where the proportion of women is much higher. We also hope this report will support the implementation of gender equality policies and practice in numerous organisations.

The Scorecard-India is the first of two to be published this year; the autumn 2017 edition will draw on large datasets from across the industry and will situate the survey within the context of experiences of women and men in the sector. Professor Raghuram said it will also look at the experiences of mobility, especially to the UK, and ask "What does it mean to be a migrant IT worker in this global industry?"

Photo by VikaUshkanova