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When Anubha Maneshwar was in school, in Madhya Pradesh's Chinndwara district, her dream was similar to that of most Indian middle-class families – to become an engineer, get a good package, and provide a good living for her parents.
Two decades later, not only is she an engineer, but she is also helping other girls from tier-two and tier-three cities get good packages and provide a living for their parents.
With her not-for-profit organisation GirlScript, 27-year-old Anubha is working to support women in tech – with both technical skills and confidence building.
"I have been in touch with so many girls and everybody has that insecurity related to tech. They are always considered delicate, more on the creative side, more on the management side. So, they may do engineering and an MBA after that, but they are not considered to be good for tech or as someone who can code. So, they always feel that they won't land a good job after doing engineering, they won't sit for campus interviews, they will have these insecurities, and they won't talk about it with other girls."Anubha Maneshwar, Founder GirlScript, to The Quint
"To all women in tech, surround yourself with the right role models. You're here because you deserve it... and get rid of the imposter syndrome," she added.
Navigating a Male-Dominated Space
In India, women make up just 34 percent of the jobs in the Information and Technology sector, as per government data. In another survey done by Deloitte, data revealed that women occupied only 16 percent of senior-level tech jobs and 10 percent of executive positions.
In this male-dominated space, being a woman tech entrepreneur is challenging. And working to make this space more inclusive for other women is even more challenging.
"I actually went to a lot of VCs (venture capitalists), who are the big names in the industry, when I was just getting started. I could definitely see that they are looking to support more men than someone like me. Because they also fear that you won't stick to the cause because you will get married in a few years."
"Actually, someone said to me that we don't invest in women because you will get married in some years and maybe you will lose it or won't do it that seriously. People have that kind of fear. Maybe, you might get pregnant in the future, and a lot of things might happen to you as a woman and you could lose what you have achieved," she added.
Anubha was named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2020 and has several awards to her credit – but she derives more satisfaction by helping other women get jobs – and currently, the count is over 5,00,000 women across India.
"When my father passed away, some of my relatives told my mom, 'She is anyway turning 18 next month. Find a guy, and get her married.' If that would have happened to me, I would have not done anything in my life."
Abubha's Passion Project – Tech for All Women
While Anubha has been working with women in tech, her passion project is to launch a 'Tech For India' fellowship – which will focus on basic tech education for all women.
"I come from a tier-3 city where people don't understand a lot of things. They have mobile phones and internet; everybody has it, but they don't know to do basic stuff. We want to teach every woman how they can become an employee of the tech industry, start their own businesses in tech, and how to be safer online," Anubha told The Quint.
But she stresses that it is important to recognise that not all days will be bright days.
"Being an entrepreneur sometimes takes a toll on your mental health. You kind of become a machine. You have certain goals that you want to achieve, and when you don't achieve them, you feel bad. People just say you are a strong woman, you know? But you won't feel that. You will wonder if you're good enough or not," Anubha said.
"My dream for the next five years is to take tech to every small village, every small city of India, and teach it to everybody – women of every age, 18 or 40 years of age," she added.