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Sapna Chadha of Google India On Internet Gender Gap And Digital Opportunities For Upskilling

  • IWB Post
  •  December 13, 2019

We are living in an era in which technology is developing very rapidly, and in the last decade, women entrepreneurs have brought some significant breakthroughs in the digital world, transforming their lives and the nation’s potential one success story after another. With a vision born of this new entrepreneurial energy, SheThePeople.Tv launched Digital Women Awards in 2015 – a celebration of talent, innovation, and entrepreneurial excellence, by women!

In 2015, of every ten Internet users in rural India, only one was a woman. Tata Trust and Google came together to address this huge gender gap and introduced a digital literacy program, titled ‘Internet Saathi’. Sapna Chadha, Senior Country Marketing Director at Google India and Southeast Asia, was one of the key leaders in the tech industry who was responsible for the huge success of this program.

In this engaging dialogue with Shaili Chopra, Founder of SheThePeople.Tv, Sapna Chadha of Google talks about up-skilling, leaving behind the guilt, ambition, aspirations, and why we need to embrace change. A mother of two, Sapna states it like it is – ‘push yourself and get those opportunities’.

Talking about how Internet has brought a change in the lives of Indian women by giving them the power to transform their lives by getting more connected and learning new things online, she says, “Women have realized that they can get all the information about their business – setting up, production, manufacturing, getting a license, etc. from the Internet without leaving their homes.”

Excerpts,

Shaili: Getting women on the internet has been one of your key objectives. Where do you think the women’s internet is today in a country like ours?

Sapna: I think it has really moved quite a bit over the last few years. At Google, one of the things we really care about is universal access to information. But we observed that it is not as universal or equitable as we hoped. However, we’ve seen some progress over the last decade. Internet is an enabler , and it is very much a focal point at Google, and for me personally as well, to eradicate this divide that exists and show the world what happens when women get access to that information and the privilege to use it.

Shaili: What are your comments on closing the Internet gender gap and the whole normative behavior around it?

Sapna: Our research on smart phone usage shows that most men question if there is even a need for their wives or mothers to use a smart phone. Men feel internet is ‘bad’ for women among other negative things. However, the amazing thing that has happened is that we’ve seen a change in the mindset of these men because of the program we’ve created. Men have now realized that if the women in their families get access to the internet, they’ll be able to contribute more to the livelihood of the family.

Shaili: How can we get more on the front of skills? How can we motivate more women to learn and grow?

Sapna: The internet is an enabler and it creates a quality with the various tools it offers. When we create an online business, no one necessarily knows if there’s a man or a woman behind it. Thus, some of the bias goes away then and there. It has created a sense of curiosity among the women about how to market their product. Women have realized that they can get all the information about their business – setting up, production, manufacturing, getting a license, etc. from the internet without leaving their homes.

Shaili: How can women push themselves and remind themselves time and again that they are truly remarkable?

Sapna: Well, women are not good at putting themselves forward unless they are 100% sure that they are qualified for something. According to a few stats that I read, women will not apply for a job unless they think they have at least 90% of the required skills as opposed to men who will apply even if they match 40% of the required skills.  Women aren’t usually good at promoting themselves and this has nothing to do with ambition. I think campaigns like #IamRemarkable by Google is a great tool for women to come forward.

Watch the full interview here.

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