By Rasyida Paddy, with inputs from Shrishti Vaish and Jyoti Kumar Bansal
Rasyida is a mom, millennial and marketer. She is ever-curious and thrives on connecting concepts and ideas to solve problems.
With economies across Asia opening up and governments in the region recalibrating their strategies to return to normalcy in a post-COVID world, there is so much for us to look forward to. One of which is economic recovery — a key item on the forward-looking agenda for both the public and private sectors across the world.
Some interesting data points: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected a 4.4 percent economic growth in 2022. Specific to India, the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2022 report forecasted a GDP growth of 6.5 percent this year.
This promise of economic rebound brings with it optimism about the job market, which was significantly impacted during the pandemic. Data from Statista shows that as of December 2021, the unemployment rate in India was recorded at nearly 8 percent.
On the flipside, the percentage of employable workers in India in 2022 saw an increase from the previous year. Women accounted for slightly more than 51 percent of employability this year. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that women have constituted a larger share of India’s employable talent than men since 2016.
Here’s another statistics worth calling out: Women make up nearly 43 percent of the total graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in India — one of the highest in the world — according to data from World Bank. The growing popularity of online learning platforms like Coursera and upGrad, especially during the pandemic, have also contributed to more female students enrolled in STEM programs. For Coursera, the share of STEM course enrolments by women learners in India increased to 33 percent in 2020 from 22 percent pre-2020, while upGrad saw a 27 percent increase.
Surely, these should be indicative of the progress that we are making towards greater gender equality in today’s economy, isn’t it?
Higher employability, however, does not necessarily translate to actual employment amongst women. Further breakdown of the data from Statista shows that the participation of women in the workforce was negligible in comparison to their male counterparts.
The Female LaborForce Participation Rate (FLFPR) has continued to fall over the last three decades — currently, the women’s workforce participation rate across India stands at 20.3 percent. Within STEM, the sector is experiencing what is called a “leaky pipeline” of women talent, with a survey by Niti Aayog revealing that 47 percent of women in the industry cited family care as a reason for refusing a challenging opportunity in their careers. As we do our groundwork and speak to women in the country, many also cited the lack of support and a strong network as reasons impeding their motivation to grow in the field.
The discrepancy between employability and actual employment, amongst women in the country has piqued the curiosity of our team here at She Loves Data, especially as we are seeing many companies investing into programs to hire more technical women this year. How can we help bridge the gap between talent availability and employment opportunities for women in thiscountry?
The answer is upskilling and learning platforms – learning pathways that will arm and equip them for a data-driven world.
Earlier in February, the Indian government announced that as part of its Union Budget 2022, it will be boosting investments and capacity for skilling initiatives, which will set the tone for a massive push to create more jobs, benefitting women predominantly. We applaud this announcement, and look forward to supporting this agenda through our platform and community.
In addition to skilling programs, organizations like She Loves Data provide women with a network of support and opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals, which we hope will give a boost in the motivation of women pursuing careers in STEM.
As the road is being paved to boost the participation of women in the country’s digital economy, it is still important to note that true impact can only be seen when women take charge and be in the driver’s seat of their career. The foundation has been set for you, and the rest of the journey is yours! The keys to the ignition are in your hands. So what are you waiting for?