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Women in tech: Bias, challenges, and progress


From the world’s first computer programmer to the tech giant Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, women have been shaping the world of technology since the 1800s. While women make up only 28.8% of the current tech workforce, we can all agree that we have some of the brightest minds as our role models to this day. 

Tech companies, in general, are going through an organic shift due to progressive hiring strategies, updated company policies, and workshops targeted toward women. The sole fact that we’re talking about ‘women leaders in tech’ goes to show how far we’ve come from the primordial notion of ‘women can’t do tech.’

So, for this special segment, we interviewed four inspiring leaders who have made a mark in Nepal’s tech industry. Their wealth of experience in this field was quite insightful and enlightening while sometimes, disheartening.

Rumee Singh

Co-Founder of Rumsan and Founder & CEO of Hamro LifeBank

Rumee studied Electronics Engineering at IoE before pursuing Journalism at Emerson College. Studying as 1 out of 6 in a class of 40 guys, she has always looked up to female disruptors. While being the Co-Founder of Rumsan, Rumee is also the CEO of Hamro LifeBank and Co-Founder of Rahat.

What’s one project that you’re the proudest of? 

“A lot has been happening with two projects. There’s Hamro LifeBank, which is a blood stock management platform. We started the ‘Ragat Chahiyo hotline,’ which has been instrumental in supporting a number of people who are in urgent need of blood. And then there’s Rahat, a humanitarian aid management platform, which is being supported by UNICEF Innovation Fund. This initiative has helped to monitor, manage and track aid, and maintain accountability and transparency.”

Have you ever faced any sort of bias for being a woman in a leadership position? If yes, how did you handle it?

“Women aren’t taken seriously even when making decisions. You have to push yourself to be heard. Besides, we’re treated as ‘props’ – for lack of a better word – saying she’s presentable and ‘nice to have.’ It just feels like a systemic thing, a systemic failure, like it’s ingrained. Usually, within the office, I’m very vocal. Whenever someone is being sexist, I say that’s not acceptable. I prod them to even give a spin to the angle of terminologies they use to describe or talk about women.”

Have you faced imposter syndrome at any point in your career? If yes, how do you handle it?

“Every day. I keep on trying to educate and inform myself to not underestimate my own value. It’s difficult to call yourself ‘amazing’ when you always question yourself. I’ve accepted that imposter syndrome exists, and I remind myself to be proud of what I’ve achieved. It’s also important to have a support network of other women leaders and entrepreneurs. When they support you, it adds value.”

Who do you look up to for inspiration? 

“New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern is someone I really find inspirational. Most women are considered to be empathetic, that we ‘talk with our emotions’, and ‘men are more headstrong and decisive’. But she personifies empathetic leadership – how without screaming or fighting, you can be a great leader. She shows that you don’t have to be aggressive to be a leader; she gives me positive reinforcement about empathetic leadership.”

Astha Sharma

Co-Founder and CEO of Code Rush and MD at Girls in Tech Nepal

Astha studied electrical engineering but always wanted to do programming and have a career in tech. With a strong motive to empower girls in the tech space, she co-founded Code Rush, a software company that provides self-sustaining training programs to young girls to equip them with necessary technical skills. She won the title of Great Companies ‘Women Entrepreneur’ in 2020. 

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received? 

“I’ve been told that I can think effortlessly to help everyone around me.”

What’s one project that you’re the proudest of? 

“I’ll name two because I can’t pick between ‘Code Like Her’ and ‘Shequal Foundation.’ Both are female-focused initiatives and we train young girls to be empowered leaders of tomorrow.”

Have you ever faced any sort of bias for being a woman in a leadership position? If yes, how did you handle it? 

“There’s bias everywhere— not only in the way we speak and act but also the way we approach ideas. It’s difficult to not be affected by the bias, sometimes even makes you wonder if you’re in the right space.

Have you faced imposter syndrome at any point in your career? If yes, how do you handle it? 

“Everyone feels this way— it’s almost ingrained in our system. The worst part is that it’s difficult to acknowledge because we ourselves have normalized this behavior. But, we need to create boundaries and have the #BreakTheBias mindset for more than just March.”

Who do you look up to for inspiration? 

“I feel inspired by everyone who is working with me and everyone I train. They are all young, but they know what they want in life and are willing to work hard for change. Further, I need to constantly evolve myself for my team members as they look up to me. They truly bring the best version out of me.”

Pratikshya Pandey

CEO of Smart Cheli

Pratiksha completed her Bachelor of Engineering from NCIT. As the CEO of Smart Cheli, she has become an educator and mentor to many young girls in Nepal. Also, Smart Cheli is bringing in a wave of a fresh change in perception with the help of programming workshops, mentorship programs and technical skill development sessions.

What’s one project that you’re the proudest of?

“Our programs are all about learning with fun. There are no vast complex courses, they are created in a way that makes it easier for the girls to relate to their school’s courses. We recently conducted a 15-days long program for girls aged 9. There were 12-13 of them. They learned everything very well, picked it up quickly and were interested in learning it even further.”

Have you ever faced any sort of bias for being a woman in a leadership position? If yes, how did you handle it?

“When women say something, even if it’s nice, men usually don’t even try to listen. There is a deeply-rooted stereotype that tech is not for women. I tackle sexism by being calm, trying to prove my points logically; explaining it in a convincing way as much as I can.”

Have you faced imposter syndrome at any point in your career? If yes, how do you handle it? 

“I’m learning how to deal with it. Since we were young, we’ve seen few women in leadership positions, so we need constant validation of our abilities. I remind myself that it’s okay to make mistakes, you’re born with your own unique abilities.”

Who do you look up to for inspiration? 

“I look upto Roja Kiran Basukala. She’s the Vice President of the Center for Cyber Security and Research Innovation Nepal (CSRI). I like how she manages everything; she balances her professional work so well.”

Shristi Piya

Co-Founder of AgriClear

As an environmental science (agriculture) graduate, Shristi Piya had no plans on being in the tech industry. But today, she is an AgTech enthusiast who loves exploring technologies (like blockchain) with a belief that they can efficiently transform our agriculture industry. 

When asked if she has faced any bias in the workplace, she proudly said no. She is thankful to have been lucky to be in a workplace with mostly females in leadership positions. 

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received? 

“Professionally, everyone I’ve worked with has praised me for being easy to work with. Also, they tell me I’m a great team leader.”

What’s one project that you’re the proudest of? 

“Has to be AgriClear. It was actually initiated because of the UNCDF challenge. I’m proud to say that not only did we win, but we’re able to bring changes to Nepal’s agricultural sector through our project.”

Have you faced imposter syndrome at any point in your career? If yes, how do you handle it? 

“Sometimes I do— but it’s only when I get questions related to core coding, which I don’t have a lot of ideas about. As a woman, I don’t feel inferior. Why should I feel inferior when I know I am good at what I do?”

Who do you look up to for inspiration? 

“Rumee Singh— she’s been an amazing mentor ever since I joined this field. She constantly motivates us as well as provides constructive criticism to be a better version of ourselves. I am who I am today because of her.”

Together, we can #BreakTheBias

Marissa Mayer, when asked what it was like being the only female engineer at Google (back in the day) said, “I didn’t notice. 

Strong leaders are not only leading the change, but they are the change. We hope these exemplary leaders serve as an inspiration to budding changemakers and visionary leaders.

Who is someone you look up to for inspiration in the tech industry? Share your answer in the comments below!

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