Imagine a world where women have lost representation and jobs, and they suffer as an invisible consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, it is the reality.
While 2021 was the start of a hopeful year, the pandemic has continued to affect lives all around the world. When we went into lockdown, started working from home, and started dealing with all kinds of crises we as humans were not prepared to experience, we hoped that by now the pandemic would be a distant memory.
Unfortunately, however, we continue to witness the grim effects of the second wave unfold in India, United States, Brazil and parts of Europe. As the vaccination rollout is being undertaken in full force, I would like to draw your attention to another impending global crisis fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Let me paint the picture of the current landscape for women in technology, especially in India.
- Lack of Leadership Representation: A report by Trust Radius has looked into the impact of the pandemic on women in technology. Its findings revealed that 5% of male tech professionals have been laid off due to the pandemic, compared to 8% of female tech professionals losing their jobs. This disappointing statistic could be due to multiple factors but the most likely reason is that women still have less seniority than men in many tech companies and the pandemic has further exacerbated the problem.
- Lack of Digital Diversity: The digital gender divide has worsened inequity in access to education, health and work opportunities. In India, 63% of adult women own a mobile phone (compared to 79% of adult men), but only 21% use mobile internet (compared to 42% of adult men). Women are systematically denied access to technology, with phone use governed by male relatives. With online classes, telemedicine, and work from home becoming the norm, women are at risk of getting left behind, unable to acquire the skills required to participate in a digital economy.
- Increased Displacement of Women-Held Jobs: Between March and April 2020, 15.4 million women lost their jobs, or 37% of the female workforce, versus 28% of men. The labor force shrank by 10.5% for women versus 2% for men between October 2019 and October 2020. Women-owned small businesses, which largely operate in consumer-facing sectors.
Increased Displacement of Women-Held Jobs: Between March and April 2020, 15.4 million women lost their jobs, or 37% of the female workforce, versus 28% of men. The labor force shrank by 10.5% for women versus 2% for men between October 2019 and October 2020. Women-owned small businesses, which largely operate in consumer-facing sectors.
I call the above the detrimental trifecta which will constitute a global crisis for women in the upcoming years as a direct but invisible impact of the current pandemic.
What can you do?
It is an extremely unbearable situation to see so many women needing significant access and support for survival. What we need is to create an infinite economic access network in technology. This is where you come in. I mean all of you.
We believe you and your company can become the linchpin in solving matters related to representation, job displacement, and the digital divide to create $1B in economic impact. Women In Cloud was designed as an economic access movement in the 21st century to galvanize collective power to rethink and reimagine a world where women are equally represented and recognized in the technology industry across the world.
With Covid-19 cases rising in India, the long-lasting health and socio-economic crisis it will create will harm generations to come. We must unite in our efforts to solve the crisis at hand.
Call for Collective Action: Let’s Create Economically Fulfilling Jobs for Women
We as a community can come together to undertake the following steps in our efforts to ease the hardship brought on by the pandemic and would like to invite all of you to join the Women In Cloud Economic Access Movement to unlock access for women.
- Enabling Women in Technology in India Through Corporate Partnerships: We need to build partnerships with global corporations and local technology companies in India to create economic access so women are represented in the right places to drive change. The technology industry is making great strides when it comes to diversity, but there’s still a long way to go. That’s why we’re encouraging more women to get involved, so they’re represented in the right places to drive change — with us, and in the industry.
- Activate STEM Based Scholarships and Micro-internships to Build a Strong Pipeline for the Future: Building talent starts with career-connected learning. The roadmap is to join forces to jointly create access to scholarships and micro internships for underrepresented communities. Recognizing the need to increase digital talent in the workforce, Coursera and Microsoft have partnered with Women In Cloud to grant 625 scholarships to underrepresented students pursuing a career in software engineering. Furthermore, Women in Cloud is launching the the #WICxFortune100 Initiative, a turnkey equity access program for Fortune 100 corporations to come together to collectively solve gender-equity challenges in technology across the world.
- Build a Strong Community To Create Opportunities and Jobs for all: Building strong partnerships across India and the world is integral to our core mission of helping women create opportunities and economically fulfilling jobs. Partnering with organizations such as the United Nations, local governments and other NGOs will enable us to build a culture of women’s economic empowerment that can reach every corner of the world — from Asia to Africa, from Latin America to Europe, from North America to the Middle East, and everywhere in between.
Today, as you read this and follow the news across the world, I am asking all of you to consider shifting your agenda to create infinite access for anyone you meet. This means challenging the status quo and deliberately creating a path for all of us to realize our dreams. In doing so, you will enable the creation of a powerful community that can avert the impending global crisis. We invite you to partner with Women In Cloud to drive the need for women in cloud computing in India.
Chaitra Vedullapalli is recognized as an influential Business Leader with a passion to enable digital equality and access to achieve economic prosperity in our communities. She is the Co-Founder and CMO of Meylah, focused on helping customers to modernize their business with Cloud solutions. She is also the Co-Founder of Women in Cloud, sits on the board of several companies, and drives global conversations with the United Nations and top corporations.