As tech becomes a larger industry and more people are looking to train for jobs in computer science, many young women have been wondering if they should consider this as a career option. Unfortunately, because the industry has been predominantly male over several decades, which is concerning since it is hindering the growth of the industry by preventing highly capable women from making an entrance.
One of the pioneers leading the surge for young women in the industry, is the co-founder and CTO of Involvesoft, Saumya Bhatnagar. She had just graduated high school when she developed her first startup. Its purpose was to reduce gender-based abortions. Growing up in an environment where male infants are prized more than female ones, Bhatnagar was a child when she noticed the difference between the treatment of boys and girls her age.
It was Bhatnagar’s father who encouraged her to pursue her startup ideaand to explore her passion for computer science. He offered her assistance, her startup was later acquired by the Indian government after a new law was passed. he acquisition was a major success for Bhatnagar.
“Women are valued because of their past work, while men are valued based on their potential,” she comments on the ethos of the workplace in India.
Although the tech industry was even more competitive for women when Bhatnagar decided to attend college, she chose a career in computer science, and would later go on to earn her Master’s degree. From there, she developed Involvesoft, a Santa Monica based start-up which provides a community platform for workplaces. She recently secured over $2.5 million dollars in seed funding, making Involvesoft the third-largest seed round in LA.
Bhatnagar also credits her co-founder for the extra support and belief in her abilities. There were individuals that did not want to work with Involvesoft because of Bhatnagar’s support of the #metoo movement, her co-founder, Gaurav Bhattacharya, stood by her.
“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,’” Bhatnagar mentions.
Knowledge and skill have never been gender-specific, and Bhatnagar is a burning example of this fact, she ensures the enforcement of gender-neutral work methodologies in her workplace. . Not only does this show her capabilities as a leader, but it poses a good example of a woman CTO and how effective she can be. In order for perspectives to change, however, there need to be more women at the forefront of the industry.
While women make up over half of the workforce, less than 30% of the tech industry is composed of women. Because it is mostly male, it has kept women from pursuing degrees in computer science and engineering for almost two decades. Bhatnagar wishes to encourage many more intellectual and capable women to explore their interests and enter into the tech industry.
“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,” Bhatnagar recalls.
Involvesoft continues to grow with a Fortune 25 organization as one of the main investors in the project. Bhatnagar sees this as a major win not only for her product, but also for women who might be unsure about starting their own company or holding a prominent position such as a CEO or CTO. Even with her success, she recognizes that there is still work to be done
“Making an impact, and knowing that your work matters in the big picture is important. If it never comes down the chain of employment, it becomes the reason for absenteeism and retention issues. It’s such a huge problem that was not getting addressed. So, we thought, why not us?” Bhatnagar says.
Even though she has been faced with adversity, her successes allow her to act as a role model for other young women who might be hesitant about choosing a career in the tech industry. She has been mentioned by Forbes, and has been on a panel for Athena. She is often the only woman in boardrooms full of men, but she encourages girls to consider opting for a career in technology, and never to be deterred from their path to success.