The tech industry has long been dominated by men, and it has been only recently that more women have been able to make known their place in this work environment. While women have been employed by tech corporations at every level for decades now, they have now been starting to gain the recognition deserved for quietly shaping the industry. This means more women CTOs, board members, and investors taking stage.
One of these software companies is Involvesoft, a workplace community platform based out of Los Angeles. This company’s story is based around an environment that fosters acceptance of its female CTO, Saumya Bhatnagar. As the co-founder of Involvesoft, she noticed that what was missing from many tech companies was the feeling of collaboration and respect on certain projects, which inspired her to create a platform that offered a more open work environment.
“Making an impact, and knowing that your work matters in the bigger picture is important. If it never comes down the chain of employment, it becomes the reason for absenteeism and retention issues,” Bhatnagar says.
She also highlights some problems that have been evident within the tech industry regarding equal pay for women and the fact that they make up only about 30% of the workforce. This can be seen as a big problem since women are now over 50% of workers in the United States in all industries, and diversity has been slow to be implemented by tech businesses. Bhatnagar represents a small percentage of women who have gone ahead and forged their own businesses—despite opposition from the industry.
The #metoo movement has also made some waves, which has brought to light some of the inequalities women are facing in the workplace. This has also caused some problems that Involvesoft has had to overcome. When one of the investors claimed that he would not support the movement, Bhatnagar quickly dismissed him.
“I didn’t want him to have my back,” she says. “I’m an immigrant. I’m brown. I’m a woman. I’m in a chief level position. I have once been asked to my face if our company was so desperate to hire coders that they hired a woman.”
One thing that makes the tech industry different from others where sexism is rampant is the fact that there are no positions that need to be directly filled by women. Unlike the entertainment industry where there are specific female parts needed, tech has survived as mainly male because the jobs do not require a certain gender. Men tend to hire men, which has perpetuated the problem over the past few decades.
Sexism has been a major problem within software companies for years, but there is hope that this might change thanks to strong women like Bhatnagar, who is willing to take on some of the challenges that come with running a company as female. Despite the fact that she has had nay-sayers, she has also had others support and thank her for her work in encouraging women to accept roles in the industry, which has gone a long way toward keeping her motivated. When she made the decision to refuse funding from the investor who did not believe in the #metoo movement, she also had a champion in her co-founder.
“Gaurav looked at me and said, ‘No, you’re my friend, and you’re sitting right here. I’m not turning my back on you. You’re my CTO and co-founder,’” states Bhatnagar.
While there have been some major changes over the past few years, it is likely that women will still have to stand up for better-paying jobs and the chance to acquire more positions within the tech industry. As more young women have declared computer science as their major, the industry will have to make room for new people—and a good portion of them will have to be women in order properly fill positions.
Thanks to companies like Involvesoft and figures like Bhatnagar, there is hope that the future will be more friendly to women trying to create a career in tech. Bhatnagar knows that is important to be a kind and understanding boss in order to show others in the industry that women can hold powerful positions and offer new ways of managing and innovating the workplace.
“If one of my employees is staying late, then I stay late until he or she leaves,” Bhatnagar comments. “I always want them to know that they can come to me if there is a problem or something that cannot figure out. It’s okay. Just call me and I will come and help. No matter how long it takes: five minutes or five hours or five days, I’ll be working right beside them as a team.”
With more women in tech like Bhatnagar, there is a chance that we could start to seem some positive changes emerge from the tech sector—allowing young women to dream of having a career in engineering or computer science.