Industry Must Stop Making Assumptions About Women's Abilities
DataQuest|June 2019
Industry Must Stop Making Assumptions About Women's Abilities

Daisy Chittilapilly, MD, Digital Transformation Office, Cisco

Supriya R

As far as women are concerned, a thought process that is prevalent in the industry is that they cannot handle the added responsibilities that leadership requires as they are also caregivers or have domestic responsibilities. Although this scenario has changed over the years by leaps and bounds, a lot more needs to be done. In a candid conversation with DQ Channels, Daisy Chittilapilly, MD, Digital Transformation Office, Cisco, tells us about the reality on the perception towards women in the IT industry, certain initiatives that need to be taken by companies and women themselves, and the secret to her success. Excerpts

HOW HAS THE PERCEPTION TOWARDS WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY CHANGED OVER THE YEARS, OR HAS IT CHANGED AT ALL?

Sometimes, you feel it has changed a lot and there are times when you feel it hasn’t changed at all. I think, there are circumstances where you feel every bit an equal, and I often feel that way. I actually have felt that way for most of my career inside the companies where I worked. Definitely at Cisco, I feel like an equal every day I walk inside the floor. I was also very lucky to be at Wipro, where I also felt the same way. Inside the company I feel like an equal, but I have heard from friends that this is not the case in other companies, which perhaps have not been as equitable. I have personally not experienced an internal company environment where I have not felt like an equal, or where I have not felt heard or valued.

WHAT SHOULD THE COMPANIES DO TO ENSURE THAT GENDER BIAS IS REMOVED?

I think one of the things that people and companies and even the best companies are guilty of doing is they speak for women. What I mean by this is that companies make assumptions about what a woman’s abilities and interests are. ey don’t make assumptions about capabilities because those are quite well displayed and documented, but they make assumptions about interests, wishes and preferences.

For example, they will make assumptions that a young mother will not be available for a strenuous job that calls for odd hours. I would say that the biggest thing that companies and recruiters can do is let women represent themselves.

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June 2019