CODESS, a community for women coders established by Skype in March 2013 to explore ways to promote gender diversity in the engineering field, was brought to India today by Microsoft. Around 30 women with 2-8 years of experience in development, testing and project management from various companies attended the event at Microsoft’s development center in Bangalore.
CODESS India is one in a series of CODESS events worldwide. For a long time, engineering has been perceived as a male dominated industry, with women active in these areas often treated as exceptions. Things are slowly changing, with more and more women now choosing careers in engineering. The mission of CODESS is to provide a platform for women coders to share personal and professional experiences, network, and learn from one another. The CODESS team delivers events and workshops for female software engineers from academia all the way through to the executive level. With previous events across Eastern and Western Europe, Asia and the US, CODESS is now making its way across the different engineering communities throughout the world, and its first India stop was at Bangalore today.
Themed The Future of Work and Play, CODESS India, which was organized by WinSpire, the women’s networking team at Microsoft India Development Centerin Bangalore, provided the attendees the opportunity to learn about future technology trends from Microsoft leaders and external speakers, attend a special session on game development conducted by a Microsoft team from the UK and watch some cool demos. The by-invitation only event, which started at 11amand closed at 4pm today, also gave the attendees the opportunity to meet experienced and like-minded female engineers from within the software industry.
“At Microsoft, diversity is at the core of our culture. Emphasis on diversity and inclusion enables us to build a workforce and create a work environment that fosters talent and creativity and welcomes different experiences, perspectives, and capabilities. Gender diversity is a key component of that, with several initiatives in place focused on advancing it. India is one of our largest R&D centers outside Redmond. The R&D workforce in India is 2200 plus, and we have taken up several D&I initiatives to achieve a balanced workforce. Leadership commitment and environment sensitization to D&I, networks for women, Springboard, Digigirlz are just some of these programs,” said Vikram Manocha, Head of HR, Microsoft India (R&D) Pvt Ltd.
Elaborating on CODESS, Manocha said: “CODESS is unique in that it focuses only on women coders. The objective is to create a forum for these women that provides them with mentoring, networking and any other support they need to further their technical careers. We want everyone to feel like they can reach out and have a candid conversation with other women in technology who may have interesting perspectives based on their experience. I am extremely fortunate to be here today, at the first ever CODESS event here today.”
In her session titled Reflections, Kalpana Margabandhu, Director, India CIO Lab and BT/IT Location Executive, IBM India, shared some learnings from her 32-year technology career. She stressed the importance of personal integrity and the ability to decide early on in life what is important to a woman, so that she canmake appropriate choices and pace her career accordingly. Self-awareness and constant learning from experiences help a person grow in her desired direction, she said. Kalpana believes events like Codess are very important for women to be able to discuss, talk about their unique challenges and find solutions. Even in the case of innovation, there is always this inherent fear of not knowing what to do but when paired with someone else, increased confidence can help you do a much better job, she said.
Sharing her own learnings, Pragati Ogal Rai, Chief Technology Evangelist, Paypal, said that women must learn to be assertive and ask for what they want, as leadership appreciates and respects people who know what they want and have the confidence to ask for it. Open and direct communication is the right way to do this, she said. She also stressed the importance of being open to change and trying out new ideas as a woman progresses in her career.