From paying by the hour for computer time to running the business intelligence division at Uber, Komal Mangtani has had an eventful journey. Hailing from a socially conservative family, Mangtani took to coding as a means of escaping social norms and gaining her independence. Soon, though, coding became second nature and a mentally stimulating challenge for the young Mangtani. No surprise then that she is now on the advisory board of Women Who Code! She was also instrumental in facilitating Uber’s $1.2 million donation and partnership with Girls Who Code to widen the reach of computer science. An estimated 60,000 girls from across the country will benefit from learning these technical skills right from an early age. Uber employees will also be roped in to host coding workshops as well as numerous other mentoring programs for young girls. All this has ensured that Mangtani is firmly ensconced on the Forbes’ list of top 50 women in tech.
In an interview to Girls Who Code, asked about why she thought women need to have a greater presence in tech, this is what Mangtani had to say, “Women bring a diversity of mindset, of thought. They bring a unique perspective to problems which emerges from their own unique experiences. For any company, having an equal number of women in their workforce broadens the cognitive ability of their employees and becomes a competitive advantage for their business.” Urging young coders to not see coding as a separate segment but rather as a foundation for auxiliary growth in any field, Mangtani suggests aligning personal interests (even if it is in arts, fashion or something similar) with technology.
With women holding only about 25 percent of computing jobs and a miniscule 11 percent of executive positions at Silicon Valley, it is imperative that immediate steps be taken to bridge this gender gap. A shortfall of women in the tech industry acts as a deterrent to young women who might be aspiring to join the sector primarily due to the absence of a support system and role models. This is where individuals like Shivaramakrishnan, Ramakumaran, and Mangtani and their success stories assume significance. Getting girls off to an early start, mentoring them, and letting them know that there is nothing to fear in using tech to create a better future is a huge leap towards bringing about gender equality in the sector.