Women in Asia face a range of challenges from poor access to education, gender based violence and ingrained discrimination which limits their political and economic opportunities.
Nevertheless, women make up half of the population in Asia. United Nation estimates that the Asia Pacific Economy would earn around $89 Billion annually if women were able to achieve full-economic potential.
Fortunately, Millennial Women or better known as Generation Y are creating rapid shifts. This generation is known as being made up of individuals between the ages of 13 to 33, born roughly between 1982 and 1994. When it comes to their careers and workplace – the majority are known for being highly ambitious, educated, optimistic, dedicated and thriving for well-rounded lifestyles.
With Global breakdown of old systems – Wall Street Collapsing, Arab Springs and women college graduates outnumbering men – the world is changing. It’s important that millennial women’s voices, values and visions align.
Thus, the week of International Women’s Day, I’d host a session that brought together a unique panel of millennial women who have established thriving careers for themselves in the midst of Bangalore’s male-dominated Startup ecosystem.
It would be the first time that BHive Workspace (my placement for the 2015 IDEX Accelerator Fellowship) would have so many women at one of our weekly startup events. Our events often attract male entrepreneurs.
This moderated unconference explored the place of young female professionals in Bangalore’s rising start-up scene. What it took to build their professional identities in the startup bubble, why their personal and professional choices differ from women of previous generations and how innovative entrepreneurship could change the place and role of women in a patriarchal world.
The session exposed me to the breadth of possibility for young women in the start up sector. Their careers ranged from running their own companies, to facilitating global relationships, legal or recruitment support for entrepreneurs running startups. Though they all explored different angles of the startup ecosystem, at the core the women shared a desire to push the status quo and pave a new way professionally for themselves and others.
Paridhi Singh digital marketing specialist of startup ‘Cialfo Pte. Ltd’ – a web app that helps students get resources to get into their dream college (including the IVY league) – introduced herself to the audience with a poem. During the day she’s sitting at her laptop at BHive’s workspace in Koramangala analyzing customer behaviour online and strategizing how to optimize the search engine. But that night I’d learn that her parents had always wanted her to study medicine. At one point she was even a research fellow at Harvard studying genetics.
Ankita Sharma of Swissnex Entrepreneurship & Innovation explores entrepreneurial partnerships between Switzerland and India. And though her work entails global partnerships, she was a rooted and humble soul. When asked what she felt was most important for the future of women entrepreneurs in India, she’d respond; “Freedom”. She’d share passionately of walking home one night by herself whistling just to feel free. She’d talk about the importance of taking risks and accepting ones right to be independent.
Manojna Yeluri Founder of Artistik License runs a legal practice dedicated to artists and creative entrepreneurs in India. She has taken her legal career and has decided to support individuals who have taken an alternative path in life. One that does not cater to the humdrum 9 to 5, but is one of the riskier paths that one can take. The path of artistic pursuit as a means for sustenance. She spoke of her growing client base that includes playwrights and musicians. She’d share with enthusiasm that many young professionals are turning to the arts.
And Finally there was Kinjal Soali of Multi Recruit. She is a senior Business Development Executive that recruits and hires for start-ups. Finding individuals with talent and skills, who could join a team of aspiring entrepreneurs, is her line of work. Today she’s in a senior position at Multi Recruit. However, Kinjal chose to share a more candid glimpse into the development of her career. She shared openly with the audience of her experience working in marketing. Once being questioned by a customer whether a woman could really sell.
The stories leaving one to wonder; would the position of women in Asia ever change? After hearing these young, talented and inspiring individuals speak, I was left to feel that surely a new wave of opportunity awaits women in Asia of the millennial generation.