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Empowering Women in STEM: Overcoming Challenges, Building Expertise, and Advancing to Leadership Roles

“It is one thing to work in STEM, but another to reach leadership positions, and there’s still a glass ceiling for women in the industry to do so. As I personally continue to grow in the tech industry, I have identified enablers that are instrumental in helping women get to the top of the chart and ensure our career does not stagnate: skills, reputation, credibility and network, which in the end are all intertwined.

Building a solid network is critical as this is where our next opportunity may come from, but can’t be achieved only by staying at our desks. It requires going out there, and attending relevant tech forums, events or meet-ups, and seeing how networking platforms like LinkedIn can be leveraged.

We also need to build our reputation, and in the process our credibility, and it is essential women strive to be as visible as possible within AND outside their organisation. It means driving initiatives that go beyond our job description, bringing new practices and implementing them, and getting better at shouting about our successes and achievements. A better recognition of women’s achievements is also how we can bring more diversity to our industry.

Finally, I recommend women identify mentors inside and outside their organisation who can help them aim for leadership roles in our industry, which I find too few are currently doing. Mentors are also sources of knowledge that they can lean on and shadow to carve their unique leadership style. Being a leader requires many skills that our universities or day-to-day job do not teach us, and acquiring those skills before any management role can ease the transition.”

Shanthakumari ManickamSenior Manager, Engineering at Netskope
Location: Bengaluru

“After 15 years in the tech sector, I know that succeeding in tech requires courage, gumption and resilience from women. Every woman in STEM will probably face insecurities at some point, and I personally have overcome them by pushing through this discomfort. It was tough, but the reward is that I’m now more confident, and not afraid to aim higher.

Even though women are increasingly more represented in the sector, I worry that many of us are not daring to aim for more challenging or technical positions. I would love to see more women sales engineers or solutions architects, and then evolving into tech leaders, who would act as role models and generally, be a catalyst for more women in STEM.

In my perspective, we can’t achieve this without becoming subject matter experts not only for our roles, but also about our broader organisations and sector, and this would be my last advice. We have to see and have a thirst for learning beyond just our piece. It is all about building an expertise that will make us invaluable, and where people will come to us when they need knowledge or to solve a problem, building our credibility for higher roles in the process.

There will be obstacles along the way, but with the courage to rise above the perceived limitations of our industry, each obstacle is an opportunity to learn and get stronger.”

Bhavya H J – Senior Staff Engineer, Netskope
Location: Bengaluru




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