Women in Tech is a special series of stories of women who have pushed boundaries to make it big in the Indian tech space, which is still largely a male domain. In this series, we ask them what it’s like to be a woman in Indian tech, the challenges they face and lessons they can share from their journey with aspiring women technologists.
There are several women in the technology space who, with persistence and determination, have achieved great heights in their careers and have gone on to become role models. Then there are women technologists like Manjula Dube, who apart from focusing on her career growth, is ensuring that hundreds of other women come out and make a mark in the tech space.
Manjula, who used to lead the PWA team at BookMyShow in Mumbai, believes that there are women in technology. But the problem is that they do not come forward and remain in their comfort zone.
“In Mumbai, I used to attend several meetups but noticed that there weren’t many women coming. At one event where I was a speaker, I was the only woman speaker, and this got me wondering why we can’t have more senior speakers. I do know women working at great places such as Flipkart and Yaatra and are very good at tech, but always wondered why they aren’t coming forward,” Manjula says. She then went on to found a meetup group called ‘Mumbai Woman Coders’.
Manjula believes that women just need to be made aware and need a slight push. And that’s exactly what she does with her meetups. She says that she was inspired by someone to play an active role in the technology space and she wants to do the same to other women as well.
She says that a lot of women seem interested when she talks to them or sees them at an event but when approached again to attend or speak, they often are shy or scared to come forward.
“If you see others doing it, you too will definitely want to be there. The problem is that women are really shy of getting out, of asking questions. They often second guess themselves wondering what if im wrong, what if my voice isn’t heard at all. I think that’s the first thing that needs to change. Women need to be given an equal platform, even if they might hesitate initially, you need to push them and give them that inspiration,” she says.
Manjula then started getting in touch with women she knew through Twitter saying let’s start something and make it big. Initially no one came forward, but that didn’t stop Manjula. She kept pushing and gradually by the 7th meetup, women saw that people across the community were supporting the meetup, they saw things happening and people started coming forward.
When Manjula sees potential in someone, she ensures they are guided and mentored to a point where they gain immense confidence, in some cases enough to become speakers at international conferences.
Manjula has recently started a workshop where she mentors people who want to become speakers like her, women who need help in any specific technology domain. If anyone is facing a challenge, she guides them on what to do and where to start.
Thanks to her perseverance, the last meetup that she conducted on Women’s Day saw nearly 50 women turn up. Mumbai Woman Coders has also got sponsorship from Google, where Manjula also happens to lead Google’s Women Tech Makers initiative.
The trends are, therefore, definitely changing, she says. But for a meaningful change to come about, Manjula believes that it is really important that male colleagues show support as well.
“It’s not a male and female thing. Men play an equal role in getting a woman on board. It’s important that they come forward and help those who need mentorship. I have come across several instances when men say ‘ladki kya karegi’, which demotivates people. They need to understand that this is an equal platform and support their women colleagues,” Manjula says.
Now that she is seeing more women come forward, Manjula wants to do a lot more for women technologists. She is planning to start video tutorials to help women in whatever technology they are working on and is also trying to start newsletters particular to java script technology.
Once she garners enough women within Mumbai, she wants take her meetup group beyond Mumbai and reach out to people across the country. And the best part about her meetups is that while the idea is to bring more women technologists forward, it doesn’t want to be gender exclusive and wants interested men to also come share their experiences and contribute to the tech scene in India.