General
06 Mar 2017

OU research informs prominent IT gender report in India

IT gender gap in India examined

IT gender gap in India examined

Open University researchers have co-authored 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.

Information Technology has become the flagship industry underlying India’s recent presence on the global stage. It is also in the spotlight worldwide due to 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.

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.

The project is being led by Professor of Geography and Migration Parvati Raghuram, and co-investigator is Dr Clem Herman, senior lecturer in computing and communications.

The NASSCOM Scorecard report provides data on women’s employment patterns and leadership pathways within the India industry and situates this in an international context. The OU researchers’ scorecard 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. Information Technology has become the flagship industry underlying India’s recent presence on the global stage. 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. It lays the foundation for understanding the similarities and differences between women’s participation in the IT sector in India and the UK.”

The research found that:

• There are many women taking up STEM subjects in India compared to the rest of the world. This puts gender diversity in Indian IT on a firm foundation.
• This is also reflected in the high number of women entering the sector.
• However, maternity seems to act as a barrier to career progression
• Nevertheless, women in senior management is higher than in other BRIC countries and also has a positive trajectory.

Recommendations in the report are:
• Individual companies need to train line managers to empower them to support and retain women employees
• The industry needs to work together to support women’s re-entry into the labour market after maternity
• Other sectors in India and IT sectors internationally can use the experiences of the Indian IT sector in order to improve their gender diversity.

Peter Horrocks, The Open University’s Vice-Chancellor, said the University was pleased to endorse the report.

He 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.”

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

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