Empowering Women in IT - eWIT
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January 2015
 
 
In This Issue
   
Note from the eWIT President
eWIT Student Convention – 29th September, 2015
eWIT wins Asia Foundation Grant and helps South Asian Women Entrepreneurs with www.sawes.org
eWIT Return to Work Initiative
eWIT Panel discussion-30th November, 2015
eWIT Trivandrum updates
Chennai Floods-Could we have prepared better? Article by Latha Ramesh, Management Consultant
   

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Editorial Board

  • Nirmala Gopalakrishnan
  • Latha Ramesh
  • Sarada Ramani
  • Lakshmi Gopal
  • Jayalakshmi Thirugnanam

No.6, Kalakshetra Avenue,
2nd Street, Thiruvanmiyur,
Chennai – 600041, India
Phone: 044 - 4212 0706
www.ewit.co.in

Editorial

Greetings from eWIT!

Our first newsletter in the New Year and we wish all our readers a very Happy News Year. Apologies for having skipped the last quarter newsletter but we hope to have made up in this issue with articles covering all major eWIT events of the last 6 months.

Nirmala_ewit

Our new eWIT president shares with us our focus areas for the New Year. So read on to find out more.

Happy Reading
Nirmala , Editor – eWIT Matters

 
   
Note from the eWIT President

Wishing you a Wonderful New Year 2016 filled with both Professional and Personal Success, Health, Wealth, Happiness and Peace.

Personally for me, it is a great honor and a matter of pride to be at the helm of this prestigious forum to continue the good work of the past and along with my recently elected team of office bearers, and we all resolve to take our beloved association to even greater heights.

I am giving below the new initiatives that are going to be the focal point of our organization, which is starting her 2nd decade.

  • In this term we have decided to focus on Technology and Leadership so that all our programs are woven around these twin themes. We are keen that women delve deeper into technology issues so that they can be at the forefront in understanding and managing new technologies and at the same time, take up leadership positions and contribute more value than they have ever done before
  • Our corporative initiative on The Return to Work runs true to our founding principle of working towards increasing the share and sustainability of women in our industry. We request our corporate members to participate and benefit from this initiative

Make it Happen’ was chosen as this year’s theme for the event keeping in line with the theme of International Women’s Day 2015.

eWIT brings women in IT and decision makers to a common platform to address challenges and aspirations of the women work force. With over 300 IT professionals both men and women along with eWIT’s partner organizations, the event was well attended.

Organizations around the world have recognized the significance of diverse work force and gender equality. Women leaders are emerging across a broad spectrum of industries all over the world.

While this is an encouraging sign, the World Economic forum cautions that the global gender gap to close will take another eight decades to close. But this pace can increase if women across strata of every society decide to be the change agent to usher in this change. While one can see changes happening we also have a large population still caught in our age old cultural milieu. Our family centric society, value system, beliefs often times inhibit us from being open in a different way. Every career woman also carries the role of a homemaker. This dual role creates conflict at home and at work and makes several women relinquish opportunities which otherwise would have been there for their asking. How can the family and workplace contribute to make women take up these wasted opportunities?

  • We will continue our thrust on Gender Inclusivity and are happy to conduct programs of relevance in this area for employees in your organizations. I would like to put on record the various workshops that have been conducted in some of the large organizations by our committee members and have subsequently borne excellent results for those organizations.
  • Being an NGO, our executive members are already associated with POSH Committees in various organizations apart from conducting POSH training too. What we do the as part of the POSH training is given in this newsletter itself. Please do reach out to us if you require any assistance in this area.
  • Our attempts at bridging the divide through the Industry-Academia Interactions as part of our annual Academic Council event is progressing well and we hope to take this forward in a big manner
  • We are proud to inform that eWIT has developed a portal sawes.org, an online portal which aims to help women entrepreneurs expand their business networks and promote market linkages across South Asia for The Asia Foundation and the South Asia Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium (SAWES). A marketplace for womenentrepreneurs, sawes.org helps women-owned enterprises and consultants showcase their products, services, and professional expertise. We are sure this will be of great interest to our individual and corporate members alike

Your suggestions on what more eWIT can do are welcome as we continue to work as the most preferred forum for women in the IT/ITES industry. Wishing you a very Happy New Year once again.

   
eWIT Student Convention – 29th September, 2015

 

The eWIT academic initiative promotes IT as a preferred career choice for women. To help students make informed career decisions eWIT collaborates with academic institutions by preparing students through workshops aimed at enhancing life skills.

The one day annual event which is part of the eWIT academic initiative was held on 29th September at the Anna University, TAG auditorium.

The Student Convention 2015, focused on equipping women students to face the potential hardships in their future career. Resonating with the United Nations’ 2015 theme “Make it Happen” for the International Women’s Day, the Student Convention 2015 revolved around the theme “Make IT Happen – Digitally”. More than 350 young women students from many engineering and arts colleges across the state of Tamil Nadu participated and benefited from this daylong event. Dr.S.Ganesan, Registrar of Anna University, gave the key note address at the event followed by several events that helped students prepare for their career. Dr.S.Paneerselvam, a close associate of Dr.Abdul Kalam, shared few inspiring excerpts from the life of Dr.Abdul Kalam. The convention, which was jointly organized by eWIT and Anna University (Centre for Women Empowerment, Centre for Entrepreneurship Development & Aakriti), had a few sessions focused on empowering women, improving interview skills and the holistic development required in obtaining a job. Sideways, the corporate training group of Evam, re-created an interview scenario and helped students internalize the basics through audio-visual clips.

Mr.Sujith, HR Leader from Infosys, who is also the founder of Maatram Foundation, engaged the students in a conversation on getting ready for a career in IT. Touching upon aspects like pursuing one’s interests, handling criticism and managing stress, he connected very well with the young crowd. Students from across the state were accompanied by their teachers for this event. Many notable names from the corporate world were also enthusiastic about this event. What more than a panel discussion on bridging the gaps between these two worlds would pave the way for development? Teachers and officials from the corporate world participated in a discussion on “Campus to Corporate” weighing in on various aspects that students need to focus on before entering into a work environment. The best practices shared provided valuable inputs for the teachers and also for the members of the corporate world in moving towards the larger goal.

While career aspirations are important, it is equally essential to focus on the health and well-being of the students. Dr.Purna Shankar and Ms.Josephine answered many questions on nutrition and healthy habits for a sound body and soul. Latha Ramesh of eWIT moderated this Q&A session. Many myths were demystified and doubts clarified on this front. The entire day was filled with conversation and activities and there was so much for students to imbibe. But this did not deter them from stretching their creative tentacles to reach out and participate in a Patti Mandram on “Velaiya-Sondha Thozhila” (Work or Entrepreneurship), which was moderated by Pulavar Ramalinga Jothi.

Dr.Anbu Rathinavel, a renowned name in the corporate and academic world, threw light upon an important subject that students should be aware of at this digital age. While we create digital footprints all over the web, it is essential to responsibly and cautiously use the medium. Especially with the emergence of increased use of social media, it is quintessential to be aware of this subject.

The program concluded with recognizing the young talents who won the poster and app development competitions. HCL's band gave a musical finish to the day playing some popular numbers.

   
   
eWIT wins Asia Foundation Grant and helps South Asian Women Entrepreneurs with www.sawes.org

It was sometime back in Fall 2013 when Asia Foundation in New Delhi was looking for a women entrepreneurs’ association in the Technology industry to host the women delegates of SAWES in Chennai and eWIT gladly accepted to host them. What we thought was just a networking event went far beyond that.

SAWES stands for South Asian Women Entrepreneurs Forum. This forum is a 2 year project that was funded by Asia Foundation to start in September 2013 and to complete by August 2015. The objective of SAWES was to identify the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in the SAWES region and attempt to resolve those challenges.

The countries that come under SAWES are Bangladesh, Maldives, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. When we hosted them in Chennai we explained the opportunities that exist in India for women in the IT sector and how we could work together with entrepreneurs in the SAWES region. The visiting delegates were very very interested to seek eWIT’s help if they ever needed any help in the IT sector.

After about a year, in fall of 2014, SAWES delegates had completed the fact finding tour and identified the key challenges that existed for the women entrepreneurs in the SAWES region that restricted them from doing business among them. Asia Foundation had floated a grant of about US$ 50,000 to three organizations in India that would provide solution to address the identified challenges. eWIT submitted a proposal to develop a portal that would serve as knowledge sharing center as well as a marketplace for women entrepreneurs and women consultants in the SAWES region. Sharing knowledge among the regional countries on trade related laws, restrictions, etc. and also learning about the trade shows taking place in these regions were identified as some of the challenges. Finding access to market was also another challenge identified. eWIT’s proposal of developing a portal addressed all these key challenges.

Asia Foundation has selected eWIT and awarded the fund for the portal development in December 2014. The portal was completed in August 2015.

The portal, www.sawes.org was unveiled in South Asian Women Development Forum (SAWDF)’s conference in September 2015. SAWDF is a SAARC recognized forum and hence delegates from additional countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bhutan were also there.

Ms. Kalyani Narayanan, the Project Director from eWIT for the portal project went to Nepal to show the features of the portal and how it could be effectively used. The delegates were excited about the portal and the SAWES country representatives unanimously agreed to use www.sawes.org as the “official” portal.

Today, any woman entrepreneur looking for market place can register for FREE and enlist her products and/or services in this portal. Women consultants who are specialized in specific services such as software quality consultants, training consultants, trade related services, etc. could also benefit by registering in this portal.

This has been the biggest (financially) project that eWIT has worked on till date. Engaging in this project has given several contacts for eWIT from the SAARC countries.

   
eWIT Return to Work Initiative

Background

In India, 48% of women quit work to care for their families. If these women could return to work, it would have a significant impact on boosting our GDP. Corporates have also been keen on tapping this talent and have drawn strategies for this inclusivity. However, only a few have geared themselves up in terms of the necessary policy changes and practices to adapt this. When organizations have policies and practices of providing part-time or flexi time employment, a majority of them would return to work. Though the prospective candidates may want to get back to work, they may need to come up to speed on recent advancements on the technology front and also re-prepare themselves mentally for professional life under the revised situation. eWIT is keen on making this a reality by connecting them both. RTW initiative is to help organizations recruit talent from the pool of women who have worked earlier and are eager to get back to work.

Initiative

The launch: eWIT plans to launch this initiative with a ‘roadshow’ at Chennai. Organizations registering to participate in this roadshow, can either recruit during the event or follow up with applicants later. Each participating organization can conduct screening interviews. Besides this, organizations can address the participants and provide them with their corporate profile and spell out their expectations. Participating organizations would not only get to advertise but also recruit their needed talent.

Support for prospective candidates

eWIT proposes to organize training programs that would help participants prepare for their chosen career. They can not only brush up on what they already know, but can also upgrade and cross skill themselves.

How can organizations participate?

  • Register with eWIT for RTW initiative.
  • Check if policies exist for part-time or Flexi time employment. If not, work on them and ensure that they are in place.
  • Have the job descriptions ready. Release the job descriptions for which such candidates are being looked for, to update in the eWIT web site.
  • Screen, shortlist and select.

How do prospects apply?

  • Register with eWIT on line
  • Create your CV (if not done already) and upload it in eWIT website. Indicate your preference, in terms of timings (part time, work from home or full time)
  • Attend the talks by experts organized by eWIT during the roadshow
  • Clear the interview

Please watch our website for further announcements and updates.You may also contact admin@ewit.co.in for further details.

   
eWIT Panel discussion-30th November, 2015

On 30th November 2015, a panel discussion on “Professional Skills Upgrading: Are on-line courses possible solutions?” was organized. The session was moderated by Latha Ramesh, Management Consultant.

The panelists:
Lovelyn.A from Polaris Consulting Services felt how online courses are a possible solution when it came to routine courses. She highlighted the current state of trainees who needed not only technical grounding but also skills such as communication, team building and so on which can best be handled through traditional classroom approach.

Professor Pratap Haridass of NPTEL, on the other hand vouched for on-line courses being an excellent way to upgrade one’s skills. He spoke about the variety of courses offered by NPTEL which have received tremendous success with respect to a wide spectrum of audience.

Ms Sobha of HCL Technologies Ltd, however batted for traditional courses especially in a corporate scenario, where project staffing depended upon teams successfully completing training within a short time. Plus she also highlighted the need to handhold the trainees, which is effective in a traditional class room atmosphere. She, however acknowledged how on-line courses could ease the training burden of project teams, if only one could predict the training needs upfront.

Professor Selvakumar reiterated the merit of teachers overseeing students closely in a typical classroom, though in his college there is a technology library where all the materials are available including the class lectures in the digital form.

To sum up, online courses, if structured to address specific needs of the target audience could be designed effective with inputs from experts and course designers. With the advantage of easy scalability, online courses could turn out to be the most economical and effective way to address the problem of skill upgradation.

   
eWIT Trivandrum updates

Trivandrum Chapter had a good year, the key highlight being the dream of a crèche that’s a key support system for working women coming true. This could be possible through sponsorship support from leading companies like Allianz, UST Global,IBS,QUEST and service partnership with Kudumbasree a globally known organisation that works in the space of empowering women at the grass roots. It is being highlighted in the media as an achievement in the silver jubilee celebrations of the IT park.

A prominent Women’s Magazine Vanitha has written about eWIT and the positive changes that we have created in the Technopark space with our activities and the crèche.

August- Media coverage during Onam celebrations in Technopark- highlighting eWITs contribution to 25 years celebration of Technopark.

eWIT TRV also a partner of the 25 years of Technopark celebrations.

Sept-‘My baby is healthy’ – workshop on Parenting by Dr Abhiram attended by 60 parents from technopark Trivandrum

October- eWIT participated in the Joy of giving week in October – observed across India every year- which was celebrated in Techno park.

eWIT’s contribution was sponsoring 4 girl children from among a pool of academically brilliant children struggling to complete plus 2 education due to financial difficulties. The commitment is to sponsor their education for 2 years.

   
Chennai Floods-Could we have prepared better?

Stories of Chennai floods would be etched in the memories of everyone in this part of the world. One, we at Chennai have never ever experienced any calamity of this dimension before and second, the quantum of unmatched relief and support we received from kind hearted souls. There have been several emotional accounts of what one went through during and after the floods. Having experienced what it means to get stranded without any sign of help for close to forty hours, I introspected on how one should be prepared for such an eventuality. In this article, I intend looking at it from the disaster-planning point of view.

What went right?
When any such disaster strikes us, most of us lose our cool. We keep thinking about the danger but fail to do the essentials. Some of the right things we did:

  • Move to safety. We switched off the mains, disconnected the inverter and moved to safety (the first floor of our house).
  • Move essential documents to safety. I had read somewhere that it was essential to keep all the important documents like the certificates, land / house documents in one place, so that when there is an eventuality, one could carry them to safety. So earlier on, I had assembled all the certificates and other crucial documents in a box and it came in handy.
  • Lock the house and shut windows. Water current being strong and if doors and windows were not fastened, all the items in the house would flow out with the current. This also prevented snakes and other insects from getting in.
  • Store food. Have a change of clothes. We could manage for a day. But beyond that without clean water, it was difficult.
  • Have candles and charged emergency lights ready at hand. Besides, getting the good old oil lamps really helped. A friend of mine had solar power installed at home and they didn’t suffer any power outage for three days.
  • Seek help. We informed all our whatsapp groups that we were stuck and we needed help. This sure helped because some of my close friends were keeping track of our safety and looking out for us. Plus help was offered from unknown quarters. That none of them could come anywhere near our street due to the current, was a different story.
  • Make our presence known to other victims. Because we could climb up on our terrace, we could shout out to other neighbours and made it known to them that we were also stranded. This was important because when the rescue team came, all of us looked out for each other.
  • Not lose hope. It is important to keep up spirits, otherwise one could easily lose presence of mind.

What went wrong?

  • Not expecting the unexpected. In the absence of direct evacuation warning, we assumed that the water level would not go beyond a couple of feet and we could manage. This false sense of confidence was also due to the reassurance of our neighbors that we would not get affected by floods.
  • Underestimating the problem. Just the previous week, we had water filling up the storm water drains with the letting out of 19000 cusecs from the lake. So a mere 6000 cusecs more would not flood the house was our assumption. We were in fact, gloating about our over-preparedness by clearing the bottom two shelves of all the cup boards. But what happened later was entirely a different story; the entire ground floor got submerged in water.
  • Cultivate the habit of putting things back in their place. Though I had assembled all essential documents together and moved them to safety, I lost some. Whenever any item is retrieved from the pack of ‘essential documents’ it is important to put back. I failed to put back my passports when I used them last and now they’re ruined in the floods. Similarly, there were a few other documents and papers l had failed to put back after the last use, were ruined. In that last minute rush to move things, they got left behind. Even better would have been using the government’s digilocker. It is simple and I recommend that everyone should simply store away the digital version of their documents.
  • Know more about your location. When potential rescuers asked for address and landmarks, we were so used to providing landmarks on the road. In a sea of water with all the familiar name boards and landmarks buried deep under water, one needs to know how to provide directions. One needs to learn where one is trapped and know its location with respect to other prominent landmarks visible over water.
  • Have a checklist of who lived where and provide help to everyone. This is more from the rescue team’s perspective. While there were boats and men who came to rescue, it was directed more towards those who had asked for help and not for those who couldn’t seek help but were stranded nevertheless. Methodically, house by house, like the roll call in a class, this should have been reaching out to every house and not stopped with only the squeaking wheels.
  • Think through and decide where one could go after rescue. Most were stranded on the road after stepping off the boat as they hadn’t any idea as to where to go. While there were relief camps here and there, no such arrangement awaited us when we were rescued.

An accident is so called because it is not a frequent occurrence. So I would urge every reader to ensure that he/she takes enough precautions and be safe. It pays to internalize the steps that need to be followed during any such calamity so that time is not wasted in deciding what to do when one is faced with the problem. Plus, being part of a network like eWIT helped me tremendously as all my friends looked out for my safety. So build a network of friends and well-wishers.

By Latha Ramesh
Management Consultant

 
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