15 Jan 2014 04:12pm

Report flags Indian gender gap

Despite championing diversity, women in the technology sector in India face the same gender challenges as across the wider business world, a study has concluded

Women working in the technology sector in India have the same aspirations as male colleagues, but receive fewer opportunities to advance, said not-for-profit organisation Catalyst. The report, High Potentials Under High Pressure in India’s Technology Sector, found that in general, female MBA graduates start at a salary that is $4,600 less on average than male MBAs. In the technology sector though, while both genders started on fairly equal footing, 12 years into their career women’s pay is lagging behind men's by approximately $6,000.

Not only do women earn less, the report concluded, they receive fewer on-the-job experiences that matter for pay or advancement. These included international relocations – within the sector, as many as 57% of men relocated to work abroad for three or more years compared to just 18% of women.

The report found there was no lack of ambition among young graduates entering the sector, with 79% of the men and women surveyed aspiring to be in a senior position, including the CEO role.

“In India’s growing economy, with high job mobility and the corresponding high demand for talent, organisations must do everything they can to attract and retain women - who, the study shows, are among their most committed employees,” said Shachi Irde, executive director of Catalyst India.

“Ensuring pay equity, equal access to developmental opportunities, and flexible and inclusive environments for women is critical for retaining talent in India’s technology sector.”

Women were also found to be less likely to change jobs, with only 21% of men surveyed still at the company where they had started their careers, compared with 36% of women.

The report suggests a couple of reasons why the gender gap may exist, including social, cultural and organizational factors within India. In particular the pressure of home and parenting can adversely affect women’s aspirations. Women were three times as likely to have taken time off for childcare-related reasons.

Catalyst said the size and pace of the technology sector in India means it is “uniquely positioned to change India’s economic outlook, and women in the technology sector can play an important role in this transformation.” The Indian technology industry contributes around 7.5% to India’s GDP, employing nearly 3m people directly and 9m indirectly.

“This report has important implications for India Inc. Companies in India’s technology sector are perceived as pioneers in championing diversity initiatives. These results demonstrate that that there is still much more to be done toward retaining and advancing talented women across many industries in India,” added Irde.

“Because the Indian IT industry contributes significantly to India’s GDP and generates a considerable number of jobs, opportunities for India Inc to pick top talent from the full pool of its ‘best and brightest’ is critical to strengthening India’s economic performance.”

The study followed 713 graduates from 26 business schools.

Helen Roxburgh


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