Empowering Women in IT - eWIT
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July 2014
In This Issue
eWIT’s 8th Anniversary: Theme : Ascend – Take Charge, May 5th 2014
eWIT’s talk on Prevention of Sexual Harassment(POSH) at Exemplarr, May 22nd 2014
The Ripple Effect: Women in the World, A report by Catalyst
Why Women Can’t Have It All? – Report from The Atlantic
State of Women-Owned Business – Infographic from Women on Business

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Greetings from eWIT!

The first half of 2014 has been very exciting and eWIT has been a part of many women-related events. The spotlight was on eWIT’s Anniversary in May.

The anniversary event was a very well attended event with key takeaways from the Chief Guests and eminent speakers, speaking on the theme of ‘Ascend – Take Charge’. The Chief Guest was Mr. C.N. Ram of Rural Shores Business Services and the Guest of Honor was Dr. Jayanti Ravi – Commissioner, Higher Education, Gujarat.

Key Speakers were Mr. Sujit Kumar – Location Head, HR, Infosys and Ms. JayasreeMitra – Global Head of Technology Governance at Standard Chartered Bank (Scope International)

eWIT is championing the cause of Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) with many governing council members chairing the POSH boards in leading companies as well as conducting trainings for professionals in various IT/ITES organisations. For trainings in this area, eWIT will train and assist professionals. Please reach out to admin@ewit.co.in for the training on POSH.

Happy reading updates from around the world regarding Women & Business.

Editorial Team

Lakshmi Narasimhan
Lakshmi Gopal
Nadia Makhani

eWIT’s 8th Anniversary with the theme of ‘Ascend – Take Charge’ on May 5th, 2014

The 8th anniversary event of eWIT was celebrated with great enthusiasm and vigour at the Hyatt Regency on 5th May 2014. The theme of the event, ‘Ascend Take charge’, was discussed in detail by the key speakers who addressed an audience comprising mainly of women representing different companies. The event began with an invocation by Miss. Gayathri.

After the initial networking and high tea, the program commenced with the President of eWIT, Ms. Rama Sivaraman’s address. She highlighted that working women should take control of their destiny. Ms. Rama mentioned that the support of family and good infrastructure can make a huge difference in helping women to climb the leadership ladder.

The Chief Guest, Mr. C.N. Ram, cofounder, Rural Shores, was the first among the invitees to address the audience. He mentioned that the empowerment of women happening is taking place in leaps and bounds. Sharing his thoughts on entrepreneurship, he mentioned that it is not a male domain anymore. Male bastions are fast crumbling. Mr. Ram also gave a wonderful meaning to the theme ‘Ascend – Take charge’ by abbreviating:

  • A -> Aspire
  • S -> Stride
  • C -> Collaborate
  • E -> Educate
  • N -> Nurture
  • D -> Demonstrate

The Guest of Honour, Dr. Jayanti Ravi, Commissioner, Higher Education, Govt. of Gujarat, addressed the audience with her insightful thoughts on the theme. She started off on a great note, saying: To ascend, we need to descend i.e., we need to build a strong foundation. She requested all the organizations to invest in silent spaces. Dr. Jayanthi also stressed on the importance of networking and staying connected. She urged all women to be themselves and have faith in themselves and in God. She related an interesting anecdote from Gujarat and her speech was very inspiring to the audience.

Ms. Jayashree Mitra, Head, Global Technology Mgmt, Scope International, who wanted to become a fighter pilot, shared her inspiring life story and stressed on the theme ‘Ascend- Take charge!’. She provided great insights and quoted a few examples from her workplace as well.

It was a treat for the audience to listen to Mr. Sujith Kumar, location HR Head, Infosys Technologies Ltd. Mr. Sujith shared his experience working with his team of 9 smart women.

He highlighted that the key problem was that women refuse to take leadership positions and he had observed this in his very own team during succession planning. He also requested eWIT to address this key problem. According to him, when people are pushed against the wall, they automatically learn to take charge, they emerge stronger, and more powerful, rising to the situation. He shared an inspiring story of a fisherwoman who goes out and catches fish all by herself in this male dominated profession. He also shared story of an orphan girl who successfully got placed in one of the most prestigious IT companies. He cited that these women took charge of their destiny and emerged stronger and successful. He also stressed on the family support and said majority of the successful women in the IT companies say that they owe their success to their mother-in-laws who provide them the support and peace they needed at home to succeed at work. Mr. Sujith quoted that women have started taking charge in the rural sectors as well.

The General Secretary of Tamil Nadu Chapter of Indian Federation of United Nations Association (TNFUNA). Mr. Narayanan, distributed booklets on “Women’s Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business”, which presents a roadmap to companies on putting the Women Empowerment Principles in to practice. This roadmap was derived from large collection of company-submitted examples, titled “Companies leading the Way: Putting the Principles into Practice”, put together by UN Women.

To mark the occasion eWIT released its 8th Anniversary souvenir. The souvenir was released by Mr. Mejo John, Facility Manager from Excelacom Technologies - the souvenir sponsors and the souvenir was received by the Chief Guest and speakers.

The eWIT excellence award winners from different categories were then felicitated by the chief guests.

The event ended with a vote of thanks, thanking all the sponsors and all the patrons who made this event a grand success.

The photographs of the event are available at:  Click Here

eWITat Exemplarr – Talk on Prevention of Sexual Harassment – May 22nd,2014


The talk on Prevention of Sexual Harrasment was conducted by Ms.Usha Srinivasan, Founder of Ushas Consulting and Founder, Advisor or eWIT

With the introduction of the new law on Sexual Harassment, a lot of effort has been underway in terms of understanding the Law, Creation of committees specific to the norms of the law as well sourcing an external NGO to be a part of the committee. Many companies are now getting their ‘house in order’! On the request of V.P.Rajini Reddy, Managing Director of Exemplarr Worldwide, Ms. Usha Srinivasan – Director, Ushas Consulting and Advisor for eWIT spoke on May 22nd on the topic of Gender Sensitisation and Sexual Harassment.

She spoke to a packed audience of personnel from Exemplarr, who were very keen to know more on the subject.

Excerpts from Usha’s talk:

Gender- the word is understood in many different ways! Society and culture play a very important part in defining GENDER. Gender expectations are set even before a child is born and Gender attributes seem to be still hardcoded in our minds!! Even though we are in the 21st century!! The following aspects were covered in her talk, which covered how organisations & personnel can together help reduce sexual harassment at workplace.

  • What behaviour constitutes Sexual Harassment?
  • Why we need to be careful and creating an awareness? What we can do to prevent it?
  • How do we promote the Policy?
  • What do we need to do make ‘workplaces’ safe?

The programme was well received and there were many questions posed by the audience.

Ripple Effect : Women in the World, a report by Catalyst

Catalyst has made a report on how the economic empowerment of women can improve a country’s growth and stability, combat shrinking labour forces and contribute to economic development. The excerpt of the report is given below. Catalyst is a nonprofit organization with a mission to expand opportunities for women and business. They are dedicated to creating more inclusive workplaces where employees representing every dimension of diversity can thrive.

The details of the report is available at :http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/ripple-effect-women-world

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All – from The Atlantic

Says, Anne-Marie Slaughter who writes for The Atlantic : ‘It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change.’

Excerpts from a very interesting and long article as to how women see the work life balance and the advancement of career through their life stages and what can be done to improve. Stay tuned to read on… the original article is much longer :

The striking gap between the responses I heard from those young women (and others like them) and the responses I heard from my peers and associates prompted me to write this article. Women of my generation have clung to the feminist credo we were raised with, even as our ranks have been steadily thinned by unresolvable tensions between family and career, because we are determined not to drop the flag for the next generation. But when many members of the younger generation have stopped listening, on the grounds that glibly repeating “you can have it all” is simply airbrushing reality, it is time to talk.

In short, the minute I found myself in a job that is typical for the vast majority of working women (and men), working long hours on someone else’s schedule, I could no longer be both the parent and the professional I wanted to be—at least not with a child experiencing a rocky adolescence. I realized what should have perhaps been obvious: having it all, at least for me, depended almost entirely on what type of job I had. The flip side is the harder truth: having it all was not possible in many types of jobs, including high government office—at least not for very long.

For those wanting to spend time with family and wanting to take a break from their career, says, Anne- Marie - We who have made it to the top, or are striving to get there, are essentially saying to the women in the generation behind us: “What’s the matter with you?”

“I look for role models and can’t find any.” She said the women in her firm who had become partners and taken on management positions had made tremendous sacrifices, “many of which they don’t even seem to realize … They take two years off when their kids are young but then work like crazy to get back on track professionally, which means that they see their kids when they are toddlers but not teenagers, or really barely at all.”

It is time for women in leadership positions to recognize that although we are still blazing trails and breaking ceilings, many of us are also reinforcing a falsehood: that “having it all” is, more than anything, a function of personal determination

Millions of other working women face much more difficult life circumstances. Some are single mothers; many struggle to find any job; others support husbands who cannot find jobs. Many cope with a work life in which good day care is either unavailable or very expensive; school schedules do not match work schedules; and schools themselves are failing to educate their children. Many of these women are worrying not about having it all, but rather about holding on to what they do have.

Let's look at the half truths we hold dear…..

1. It’s possible if you are just committed enough.

Can “insufficient commitment” even plausibly explain these numbers? To be sure, the women who do make it to the top are highly committed to their profession. On closer examination, however, it turns out that most of them have something else in common: they are genuine superwomen. Consider the number of women recently in the top ranks in Washington—Susan Rice, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Michelle Gavin, Nancy-Ann Min DeParle—who are Rhodes Scholars. Samantha Power, another senior White House official, won a Pulitzer Prize at age 32. Or consider Sandberg herself, who graduated with the prize given to Harvard’s top student of economics. These women cannot possibly be the standard against which even very talented professional women should measure themselves. Such a standard sets up most women for a sense of failure.

What’s more, among those who have made it to the top, a balanced life still is more elusive for women than it is for men. A simple measure is how many women in top positions have children compared with their male colleagues

I am all for encouraging young women to reach for the stars. But I fear that the obstacles that keep women from reaching the top are rather more prosaic than the scope of their ambition.

Jolynn Shoemaker, the director of Women in International Security, agreed: “Inflexible schedules, unrelenting travel, and constant pressure to be in the office are common features of these jobs.”

2. It’s possible if you marry the right person.

Sandberg’s second message in her Barnard commencement address was: “The most important career decision you’re going to make is whether or not you have a life partner and who that partner is.”

Still, the proposition that women can have high-powered careers as long as their husbands or partners are willing to share the parenting load equally (or disproportionately) assumes that most women will feel as comfortable as men do about being away from their children, as long as their partner is home with them. In my experience, that is simply not the case.

From years of conversations and observations, however, I’ve come to believe that men and women respond quite differently when problems at home force them to recognize that their absence is hurting a child, or at least that their presence would likely help. I do not believe fathers love their children any less than mothers do, but men do seem more likely to choose their job at a cost to their family, while women seem more likely to choose their family at a cost to their job.

Many factors determine this choice, of course. Men are still socialized to believe that their primary family obligation is to be the breadwinner; women, to believe that their primary family obligation is to be the caregiver

To many men, however, the choice to spend more time with their children, instead of working long hours on issues that affect many lives, seems selfish. Male leaders are routinely praised for having sacrificed their personal life on the altar of public or corporate service. That sacrifice, of course, typically involves their family. Yet their children, too, are trained to value public service over private responsibility.

In sum, having a supportive mate may well be a necessary condition if women are to have it all, but it is not sufficient. If women feel deeply that turning down a promotion that would involve more travel, for instance, is the right thing to do, then they will continue to do that.

3. It’s possible if you sequence it right.

The most important sequencing issue is when to have children. Many of the top women leaders of the generation just ahead of me—Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sandra Day O’Connor, Patricia Wald, NannerlKeohane—had their children in their 20s and early 30s, as was the norm in the 1950s through the 1970s. A child born when his mother is 25 will finish high school when his mother is 43, an age at which, with full-time immersion in a career, she still has plenty of time and energy for advancement.

Yet this sequence has fallen out of favor with many high-potential women, and understandably so. People tend to marry later now, and anyway, if you have children earlier, you may have difficulty getting a graduate degree, a good first job, and opportunities for advancement in the crucial early years of your career. Making matters worse, you will also have less income while raising your children, and hence less ability to hire the help that can be indispensable to your juggling act.

Personally, I have never seen a woman in her 40s enter the academic market successfully, or enter a law firm as a junior associate, Alicia Florrick of The Good Wife notwithstanding.

These considerations are why so many career women of my generation chose to establish themselves in their careers first and have children in their mid-to-late 30s. But that raises the possibility of spending long, stressful years and a small fortune trying to have a baby. I lived that nightmare: for three years, beginning at age 35, I did everything possible to conceive and was frantic at the thought that I had simply left having a biological child until it was too late.

And when everything does work out? I had my first child at 38 (and counted myself blessed) and my second at 40. That means I will be 58 when both of my children are out of the house. What’s more, it means that many peak career opportunities are coinciding precisely with their teenage years, when, experienced parents advise, being available as a parent is just as important as in the first years of a child’s life.

But the truth is, neither sequence is optimal, and both involve trade-offs that men do not have to make.

1. What's got to change?

One way to change that is by changing the “default rules” that govern office work—the baseline expectations about when, where, and how work will be done.

Long hours are one thing, and realistically, they are often unavoidable. But do they really need to be spent at the office? To be sure, being in the office some of the time is beneficial. In-person meetings can be far more efficient than phone or e-mail tag; trust and collegiality are much more easily built up around the same physical table; and spontaneous conversations often generate good ideas and lasting relationships. Still, armed with e-mail, instant messaging, phones, and videoconferencing technology, we should be able to move to a culture where the office is a base of operations more than the required locus of work.

Being able to work from home—in the evening after children are put to bed, or during their sick days or snow days, and at least some of the time on weekends—can be the key, for mothers, to carrying your full load versus letting a team down at crucial moments. State-of-the-art videoconferencing facilities can dramatically reduce the need for long business trips. These technologies are making inroads, and allowing easier integration of work and family life. According to the Women’s Business Center, 61 percent of women business owners use technology to “integrate the responsibilities of work and home”; 44 percent use technology to allow employees “to work off-site or to have flexible work schedules.” Yet our work culture still remains more office-centered than it needs to be, especially in light of technological advances.

Changes in default office rules should not advantage parents over other workers; indeed, done right, they can improve relations among co-workers by raising their awareness of each other’s circumstances and instilling a sense of fairness. Two years ago, the ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts decided to replace its “parental leave” policy with a “family leave” policy that provides for as much as 12 weeks of leave not only for new parents, but also for employees who need to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition

2. Revaluing Family Values

While employers shouldn’t privilege parents over other workers, too often they end up doing the opposite, usually subtly, and usually in ways that make it harder for a primary caregiver to get ahead. Many people in positions of power seem to place a low value on child care in comparison with other outside activities. Consider the following proposition: An employer has two equally talented and productive employees. One trains for and runs marathons when he is not working. The other takes care of two children. What assumptions is the employer likely to make about the marathon runner? That he gets up in the dark every day and logs an hour or two running before even coming into the office, or drives himself to get out there even after a long day. That he is ferociously disciplined and willing to push himself through distraction, exhaustion, and days when nothing seems to go right in the service of a goal far in the distance. That he must manage his time exceptionally well to squeeze all of that in.

Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton’s indefatigable chief of staff, has twins in elementary school; even with a fully engaged husband, she famously gets up at four every morning to check and send e-mails before her kids wake up. Louise Richardson, now the vice chancellor of the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, combined an assistant professorship in government at Harvard with mothering three young children. She organized her time so ruthlessly that she always keyed in 1:11 or 2:22 or 3:33 on the microwave rather than 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00, because hitting the same number three times took less time.

Our assumptions are just that: things we believe that are not necessarily so. Yet what we assume has an enormous impact on our perceptions and responses. Fortunately, changing our assumptions is up to us.

3. Redefining the Arc of A Successful career

The American definition of a successful professional is someone who can climb the ladder the furthest in the shortest time, generally peaking between ages 45 and 55. It is a definition well suited to the mid-20th century, an era when people had kids in their 20s, stayed in one job, retired at 67, and were dead, on average, by age 71.

It makes far less sense today. Average life expectancy for people in their 20s has increased to 80; men and women in good health can easily work until they are 75. They can expect to have multiple jobs and even multiple careers throughout their working life. Couples marry later, have kids later, and can expect to live on two incomes. They may well retire earlier—the average retirement age has gone down from 67 to 63—but that is commonly “retirement” only in the sense of collecting retirement benefits. Many people go on to “encore” careers.

Along the way, women should think about the climb to leadership not in terms of a straight upward slope, but as irregular stair steps, with periodic plateaus (and even dips) when they turn down promotions to remain in a job that works for their family situation; when they leave high-powered jobs and spend a year or two at home on a reduced schedule; or when they step off a conventional professional track to take a consulting position or project-based work for a number of years. I think of these plateaus as “investment intervals.”

Peaking in your late 50s and early 60s rather than your late 40s and early 50s makes particular sense for women, who live longer than men. And many of the stereotypes about older workers simply do not hold. A 2006 survey of human-resources professionals shows that only 23 percent think older workers are less flexible than younger workers; only 11 percent think older workers require more training than younger workers; and only 7 percent think older workers have less drive than younger workers.

4. Rediscovering the pursuit of happiness

If we didn’t start to learn how to integrate our personal, social, and professional lives, we were about five years away from morphing into the angry woman on the other side of a mahogany desk who questions her staff’s work ethic after standard 12-hour workdays, before heading home to eat moo shoo pork in her lonely apartment

Women have contributed to the fetish of the one-dimensional life, albeit by necessity. The pioneer generation of feminists walled off their personal lives from their professional personas to ensure that they could never be discriminated against for a lack of commitment to their work. When I was a law student in the 1980s, many women who were then climbing the legal hierarchy in New York firms told me that they never admitted to taking time out for a child’s doctor appointment or school performance, but instead invented a much more neutral excuse.

Says, Anne Marie - 'I would end faculty meetings at 6 p.m. by saying that I had to go home for dinner; I would also make clear to all student organizations that I would not come to dinner with them, because I needed to be home from six to eight, but that I would often be willing to come back after eight for a meeting. I also once told the Dean’s Advisory Committee that the associate dean would chair the next session so I could go to a parent-teacher conference. '

Let us rediscover the pursuit of happiness, and let us start at home.

5. Innovation Nation

Indeed, the most frequent reaction I get in putting forth these ideas is that when the choice is whether to hire a man who will work whenever and wherever needed, or a woman who needs more flexibility, choosing the man will add more value to the company

At the core of all this is self-interest. Losing smart and motivated women not only diminishes a company’s talent pool; it also reduces the return on its investment in training and mentoring. In trying to address these issues, some firms are finding out that women’s ways of working may just be better ways of working, for employees and clients alike.

The books I’ve read with my children, the silly movies I’ve watched, the games I’ve played, questions I’ve answered, and people I’ve met while parenting have broadened my world. Another axiom of the literature on innovation is that the more often people with different perspectives come together, the more likely creative ideas are to emerge. Giving workers the ability to integrate their non-work lives with their work—whether they spend that time mothering or marathoning—will open the door to a much wider range of influences and ideas.

6. Enlisting Men

Perhaps the most encouraging news of all for achieving the sorts of changes that I have proposed is that men are joining the cause. In commenting on a draft of this article, Martha Minow, the dean of the Harvard Law School, wrote me that one change she has observed during 30 years of teaching law at Harvard is that today many young men are asking questions about how they can manage a work-life balance. And more systematic research on Generation Y confirms that many more men than in the past are asking questions about how they are going to integrate active parenthood with their professional lives

Men have, of course, become much more involved parents over the past couple of decades, and that, too, suggests broad support for big changes in the way we balance work and family

Going forward, women would do well to frame work-family balance in terms of the broader social and economic issues that affect both women and men. After all, we have a new generation of young men who have been raised by full-time working mothers. Let us presume, as I do with my sons, that they will understand “supporting their families” to mean more than earning money

If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal. We must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices, too. We have the power to do it if we decide to, and we have many men standing beside us.

The full article is available at:


State of Women Owned Business – Infographic from Women on Business

The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report has been released by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and Web.com Group, Inc. According to the report, nearly nine out of 10 women business owners (87%) are optimistic about the economic outlooks for their businesses this year, which is a 12% increase over 2013 findings.

When asked what they consider to be very or somewhat important macro issues in 2014, two issues came out on top by a significant amount. Overall, 90% of the 606 women business owners who responded to the survey indicated that the state of the economy was one of their biggest “big picture” concerns followed by business tax issues (80%).

On a micro level, women business owners who responded to this survey identified several issues that they consider to be very or somewhat concerning for the next six months:

  • Gaining new customers = 90%
  • Generating positive cash flow = 84%
  • Maintaining existing customers = 81%
  • Keeping expenses in check = 81%
  • State of the economy = 81%

In 2014, women business owners will invest more in marketing, customer service, and hiring but less in product and service enhancement. Key investment areas in 2014 were ranked by the survey respondents, and marketing came out on top with 78% of respondents stating that marketing would be a key investment for 2014. Customer service (68%), product and service enhancements (54%), and hiring (41%) were also identified as key investments for women business owners this year.

Where will those additional marketing investments go in 2014? Looking at online marketing tools, women business owners report that their 2014 investment plans will see an increase in spending on websites, social media, search engine optimization, mobile, and ecommerce. When asked which forms of online marketing are most important, 88% of women business owners stated that their websites are very important. Following are the 2014 marketing initiatives importance rankings as well as comparisons to data from the 2013 study:

  • Website: 88% (up from 85% in 2013)
  • Social media presence: 79% (up from 71% in 2013)
  • Search engine optimization: 70% (up from 69% in 2013)
  • Mobile presence: 58% (up from 44% in 2013)
  • Ecommerce: 37% (up from 31% in 2013)

You can follow the link at the beginning of this article to read the complete 2014 report. Click the following link to learn more about the 2013 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.

Check out the infographic below for some of the highlights from the research study.

To read the full report, please visit:


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