International Women’s Day 2023
Let’s play a game.
You receive a text from your colleague saying that they’ll be running late today because they need to bring their child to a doctor’s appointment before dropping them off at school. No problem, you think to yourself. A few minutes later, an important email arrives in your inbox- it’s from your boss. They’re asking you to stay late this evening to entertain a group of clients who are visiting from out of town.
In the above scenario, how did you imagine the characters? Was the colleague who would be arriving late a woman and the boss a man? For most people, this would have been the assumption. A lifetime of grooming that leads us to believe that leaders are male and caretakers are female doesn’t just affect imaginary scenarios. This way of thinking is deeply ingrained in our society and ultimately plays a big role when it comes to career choices and professional environments.
According to the World Economic Forum, it is estimated that it will take 132 years to reach full gender parity. For decades, the field of tech has suffered even more disparaging figures, and as of 2022, women only make up 28% of the tech industry workforce.
The lack of women in tech is strongly connected to biases, and at Glovo, we are determined to break them by giving them access to technology through awareness, education, Employee Resource Groups to support minorities, and actions to facilitate their integration into the labor market. International Women’s Day is a key moment for us to reflect on what still needs to be done to ensure everyone, regardless of gender, is empowered to reach their full potential and live freely and equally.
For this important day, we sat down with Glovo Group Product Manager, Srishti Shah, to hear about her experiences working in tech and the future she imagines for women looking to enter this rewarding field.
Srishti Shah, Glovo Group Product Manager
How did you start your career in tech?
I always knew that I wanted to work on solving problems that made a difference in the world. I realized that technology could help me achieve these goals more efficiently. Hence, I decided to join a health tech start-up, which virtually connected doctors and patients, as an Analyst. As the start-up was relatively small (~30 people), I was able to try my hand at everything from marketing to B2B relations and finally ended up enjoying the Product side of things so much that I decided to stick with it ever since.
Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?
As a Group Product Manager, I typically spend my time doing three things: – planning, execution, and dealing with unexpected situations. Every day is different. But typically, I will have either regular meetings such as weekly core team meetings, sprint planning with my development team, or stakeholder update meetings. On other days, I will have meetings related to a project with key stakeholders, such as design, data, and marketing. When I’m not in meetings, a good chunk of my time goes towards learning, analyzing, and making strategic decisions about the product’s future, roadmap planning, people management and documentation- a lot of documentation.
I don’t think it’s any secret that many women in the tech industry have felt their gender has affected the way that they are perceived or treated. Have you ever been in a situation like that? How did you handle it?
Unfortunately, yes. When I started my career as a Product Manager in India, several times I felt that my words were not given weight. If I tried to be more assertive, it was sometimes considered rude, even when that was not the case for male colleagues in similar situations.
I also identified that there was a huge pay gap between me and my male colleagues even though we had the same role. Not to mention the uneasiness I felt when I wore certain clothes… All of the above was quite frustrating at the beginning and frankly quite intimidating.
But the urge to prove myself was bigger than all that. I spent a lot of time learning the product I was working on and tech concepts, how to manage stakeholders, etc. What I realized was that if I know my product, and if there is logic in the solution I am building, I can get the buy-in.
I should mention that I did not handle it alone, I would speak to my friends and colleagues on how to tackle it. There will be a lot of hard situations that someone, especially a woman, can come across in their career. In the end, one should know their worth and always speak up. Actions will bring about change, something I can say from first-hand experience.
What do you do to help elevate junior female colleagues working in tech?
I try to create an inclusive culture with the teams I manage making it very easy for anyone to approach me. I also regularly share my knowledge and past experiences when a junior colleague comes to me seeking advice. As a leader, I ensure that I am providing equal opportunities for promotions and helping elevate the career prospects of junior female colleagues.
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that’s the case?
Yes, if you walk into any tech company, look around and you will see mostly men. There can be several factors causing this in my opinion. First and foremost, our society sadly still has pre-defined gender roles thus girls are not given enough information on what working in the tech sector involves and it is not presented as a viable or attractive career option.
This leads to a lack of female role models and even awareness of the existing ones thus reinforcing the perception that a technology career is not for women. The current reality also can be a deterrent as many can be put off by a career in technology as it’s too male-dominated.
What’s the best and worst professional advice you’ve ever received?
The best: Stop doubting yourself. Fight for your cause and for yourself without fear for how others may perceive you. Give it your best shot in anything you do.
The worst: In one of my previous organizations, one of my colleagues told me that I should dress pretty and talk casually with the clients. That would make it easier to convince them. Safe to say that I did not continue working with that colleague.
Bringing women and other marginalized groups into technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality. Do you relate to this statement? If so, what related experiences have you had?
I believe that historically there have been multiple instances where women’s needs have been left behind due to the lack of inclusion and accessibility they may have had to digital education. More often than not, these gender inequalities tend to widen as technology advances and the existing inequalities grow and become more evident.
I know from personal experience that in India for example, there are multiple factors tied to the usage of the internet for women. Women are usually less likely to use the internet due to socio-cultural reasons, such as negative perceptions or safety-related reasons (they may feel more exposed than men). This results in a lack of awareness in terms of their rights and role in society.
In this sense, I believe that having a gender-oriented approach to digital education will help us to shed light on the immense variety of opportunities that technology has to offer. Additionally, this will give women and other marginalized groups an active role in representing their own needs and tackling problems with solutions tailored to them.
How do you envision the future of tech and specifically, for women in tech?
Personally, I think humans will rely more and more on technology in their daily lives. And ~50% of the population is women. It is only fair that we as women design solutions that cater to us. When something is built to be used by all, it will also work better when all opinions are considered. Thus, it also requires women to be represented at C-level and managerial positions.
In short, the answer is that it is challenging but bright. Already we see the landscape changing and we have organizations such as Women in Tech, Girls Who Code, and many others which are helping pave the way for more and more girls to join tech.
Women at Glovo
At Glovo, we continue to re-build systems, processes, and policies to foster fairness and track data to prove the impact. We also performed a gap analysis to understand the gaps in our systems, processes and policies and are now working on a cross-HR team to close the gaps across the employee life cycle.
The culmination of these efforts have been gathered in our 2021 DIB Report where we measure the overall inclusion score based on feedback from our 4,000 employees. We scored 8.5 out of 10 which rates us above the industry average and puts us on track to achieve our ambitious goal of being among the top 5% in DIB among tech companies and our mission to set the example for others in the industry.
While our tech teams are currently only 19.5% female, our goal is to increase this number to 25% by 2025. We plan to achieve this goal through a series of ambitious programs, with help from our DIB recruitment team, and internal Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) like GloW. This ERG aims to be a driver of positive change by fostering a safe and inclusive community, providing resources and facilitating initiatives to help further develop talent and career opportunities, resulting in Glovo being a world leading startup for women to work at.
Other initiatives, like our LeaderSHE program, allows Glovo’s women to steer their career within the company. This program creates an environment that allows female workers to grow their network, develop their skills, and enhance their leadership potential. We also put an emphasis on recruiting programs to hire female data interns junior female engineers through our Data female program or our L1 Female Engineering Program. In addition, we plan new initiatives such as bootcamps for women who do not have a technical background but want to pursue a career in tech as well as scholarships for teenagers to name only two examples.