Virtusa takes lead to break gender bias in IT sector | Sunday Observer

Virtusa takes lead to break gender bias in IT sector

12 March, 2023
A university student receives a scholarship.
A university student receives a scholarship.

 Women’s participation in the ICT sector in Sri Lanka is low compared to many countries and Virtusa has taken the lead to break this barrier.

Virtusa Sri Lanka celebrated International Women’s Day at Shangri-La, Colombo on Thursday as part of its global campaign to close the gap in gender equity across the IT industry and STEM fields.

As a global provider of digital strategy, digital engineering and IT services and solutions, Virtusa isalso hosting the global Engineering Equity hackathon, to spur innovation in tech solutions that advance gender equity while nurturing female talent. Over 65,000 female students from nine countries including Sri Lanka have registered for the hybrid event, which offers built-in mentoring along with job opportunities, scholarships, as well as cloud and technology certifications.

Chief People Officer at Virtusa, Sundar Narayanan said, “Women will never reach gender equity in the STEM field, unless we apply the same rigour to solving gender equity that we apply to the most challenging engineering problems. The Engineering Equity hackathon aims to do just that, providing a platform to create solutions and training for women by women.”

It was estimated that the local ICT workforce is around 200,000 with only about 25% being women. According to some available data this number is around the 40% mark in European countries.

Virtusa has around 40,000 employees globally. With a female workforce of 38% Virtusa Sri Lanka is one of the organization’s key development centres.

This year for International Women’s Day Virtusa allocated USD 70,000 globally in scholarships and donations. Of this, scholarships worth USD 10,000 were awarded to female students in Sri Lanka through partner universities.Namely the University of Colombo, University of Jaffna, University of Vavuniya and the Open University of Sri Lanka.

The Engineering Equity hackathon aims to address and solve societal problems by encouraging participants to develop apps, platforms and programs based on four identified challenges. These include a chronic STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subject gender gap at schools and universities, a shortage of female role models, the perception of technology careers for women and a lack of understanding of how technology can enable women to change the world.

To cap off the events, Virtusa hosted a number of virtual panels and fireside chats with female leaders, including a panel discussion in Sri Lanka, with the participation of several inspiring women across technology and other sectors, who shared their experiences and learning on how to navigate the gender equity gap, and how to succeed in an ever-evolving career landscape.

The panelists included Virtusa’s very own Senior Director of Finance – Dinoo de Mel and Associate Director of Delivery – Rangika Perera, alongside CEO and Co-founder of Hatch Works – BrindhaSelvadurai, and Advocate and Educationist on Environmental and Human Rights – Anoka Abeyrathne. The panel was moderated by Hirushi De Silva, Associate Director – Business Consulting at Virtusa.