Do we need to focus on building the next line of Women CIOs?

While the representation of women in the CIO community has been increasing over the years, the road ahead remains unknown. Leading women CIOs and winners of CIO100 awards say they are yet to identify and train the next line of women CIOs in their respective organizations. 

In a male dominated technology industry, women are not only leaving their mark but also leaving many behind. After spending over a decade in the industry, women CIOs feel that while the number of women taking up technical roles has increased over the years, representation in the C-suite level still remains lower.  

According to NASSCOM the total representation of women in the C-suite level remains at one percentage.

However, Ritu Madbhavi, CIO of FCB Ulka Advertising, feels that women are not only well represented but also have made their mark in terms of representation in the C-suite.

“We see a good representation of women at the C-suite level as well now. Conscious efforts were taken over the years to make sure this number is increased and achieved. We now see a lot of women at the C-suite level. We can say we have reached a mark in terms of women representation,” said Madbhavi.

“I clearly see that there’s a glass ceiling for women CIOs. Women should ensure that they leverage their knowledge, education, inert perseverance and the encouragement they get from various fields to reach the top.”

Veena Vasanth

Senior Director-Infotech, Biocon

Glory Nelson, Senior VP, IT, Spicejet, believes that 'to be honest' and 'not to get into a mind-set of expecting differential treatment for being woman' are the keys to reaching the C-suite league.

However, there are some important lessons which every CIO-aspirant woman should know. Some of the top tips on how to reach C-suite league shared by the top women executives says 'being focused' and 'balancing work and home chores' are key to success.

Seema Gaur, the Executive Vice President and Head of IT, Iffco Tokio General Insurance company, believes one should earn respect by job performance and not by any other favours; and should not be cowed down by the word female or woman. Being focused on your job and tasks, at the same time maintaining cordial relations with all at the workplace, irrespective of gender plays an important role in keeping you ahead in the game.

She also adds, “Strike a balance between work and home to have peaceful family life. Be a dedicated mother and home maker along with focus on career. Because a happy and contented family life is must for any success in career.”

The Indian women CIOs want more women CIOs to come up, and are willing to give away tips to the path of achievement. Yet they haven’t been able to groom any potential CIO candidate from their own company. While all the women are enthusiastic about getting the next one in the line, probably the fact that a glass ceiling still exists could be a reason for them not being able to take it forward.

"'To be honest' and 'not to get into a mind-set of expecting differential treatment for being woman' are the keys to reaching the C-suite league."

Glory Nelson

Senior VP, IT, Spicejet

Veena Vasanth, Senior Director-Infotech, Biocon, says, “I clearly see that there’s a glass ceiling for women CIOs. Women should ensure that they leverage their knowledge, education, inert perseverance and the encouragement they get from various fields to reach the top.”

Gaur believes a potential women CIO should update her knowledge and skill sets with the fast changing technology to stay abreast with the latest in IT, and also aim high and never feel oneself inferior to others in any respect. She said, “No second line female exists in IT in my organization yet, although juniors are being encouraged and motivated to aim high.”

Nelson too has not yet groomed any women to be a potential CIO in future. Although she believes, being honest to the job that you are doing and taking an extra step without any hesitation to make the workplace better. The other important tip for women who wants to come into C-suite is to consider them on par with male counterparts and not to get into a mind-set to expect differential treatment for being women.