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Abstract

This systematic study is focused on examining the women’s gendered identity work in an Indian IT company. The research builds a body of work that explores female tokenism at senior positions and highlights tension in practicing gender. Research was conducted through semi-structured interviews with twenty two women employees utilizing the case study approach. A patriarchal Indian society and social construction of IT as feminine and rewarding for women is responsible for an increase of women participation in it. However, there is evidence of exclusion at all levels of hierarchy in the firm on accounts of gendering and social practices. There is prevalence of gender based discrimination in the nature of work allocated and the compensation received especially at the middle level. Gender stereotyping is related with such workplace discrimination. Women tokens at the higher level have been unable to influence policy directions in favor of women employees. Frustrated women employees chose passive coping mechanism such as acceptance as part of work culture and social expectations. Clearly there are tensions between gender and social practice in the chosen firm. Company has a significant role to play in nurturing and supporting women employees through a strong support system. Strategies include avoidance of negative connotations, mentoring, provision of work-life balance support initiatives, tough action against harassment, concerns of discrimination and tokenism. Most important issue is awareness in the society which is effective in changing socially constructed beliefs and attitudes related to gender which would go a long way in improving women experience in workplace. Studies critically analyzing IT’s implications on India’s overall social and economic development is scarce. Further, there have been few sociological studies of work focusing on this industry or on its workforce. This study addresses this gap existing in the literature. The study to the best of my knowledge would be the first of its kind in the Indian context as few studies previously conducted on women IT workforce ignored the theoretical perspectives.

Note on the Author

Armed with a Masters from TERI and a BSc from University of Delhi (Silver and Golden Jubilee Awardee). Dr. Geetanjali Kaushik completed her PhD in Environmental Sciences and Management, from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Delhi with 45 International Journal publications in International Journals of repute. She has participated in International Conferences held in Germany (won first prize) and USA (received American Society of Nutrition travel grant). Subsequent to her PhD she has also worked with University of California, Berkley on an air quality monitoring project for Delhi. She has also edited 4 International books. Her taught assignments include stints as Assistant Professor with the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun and Amity University, Noida. In 2012 Dr. Kaushik received full scholarship from School of Management, Swansea University UK to undertake MBA. She topped the MBA class and has worked in UK and Turkey in various positions. She returned to India in 2015 and worked as Associate Professor in Environmental Management.

Alison Pullen. School of Management, Swansea University, UK, Mahatma Gandhi Mission’s Institute of Management, N-6 CIDCO, Aurangabad, Maharashtra

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