Women’s participation in the Information Technology (IT) sector has increased to 34 percent in this decade, according to a 2017-2018 report by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology.
When Pune-based Pooja Bangad completed her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Pune University, she bagged jobs at big tech firms like Wipro, Zensar, Infosys, Cognizant, and others, and she decided to work with Cognizant in 2015.
“I was always good at academics. Algorithms were fun to me and piqued my interest,” Pooja tells HerStory.
After working in the tech industry for many years, Pooja witnessed a glaring gap in the representation of women in mid and senior-level jobs in tech.
This made Pooja and her college friend Tejas Kulkarni come together to start SheWork to help women get back to their careers in tech after a break.
Founded in 2019, Pune-based SheWork is a shared employment platform and helps companies hire and deploy talent within 48 hours. There are currently 20,000+ talents on the website and about 80 percent of them are women.
Today, the startup hosts tech giants like TechMahindra, Rebel Foods, Dell, TCS, and others.
Pooja says, “There are just not enough women in mid and senior management roles. Women who are on sabbatical or have taken a break from their careers as they are getting married, expecting, shifting to some other place, find it really difficult to get back to work because of the lack of opportunities.”
“The idea of starting this platform stemmed from here. We started this platform in 2019 with an idea to bridge this career gap among women professionals. Through SheWork, we enable companies to hire women employees. Women professionals have the flexibility to work remotely and choose projects that fit in with their personal and professional goals,” she adds.
With SheWork, Pooja says she wanted to create a flexible work environment for women.
“We wanted to create something more flexible and reliable for women. This concept gave birth to an ecosystem called SheWork, where women have complete flexibility in terms of location – they can choose to work remotely or onsite, they can choose the duration of the project they want to work on, etc.,” she adds.
The platform also provides talent advocates for women who are seeking tech jobs to steer them towards the project of their liking.
Pooja Bangad, Co-founder SheWork
How it works?
Explaining how SheWork functions, Pooja says, “Our platform lets companies hire specialist talent in a matter of hours by scheduling a meeting and planning the project on the go. Every member of the SheWork.in community is pre-vetted before entering the community.”
“At SheWork, we believe that a certain gender gap and prejudice still exists, and we are on a mission to disrupt the industry in this regard,” she adds.
SheWork endorses the concept of shared employment by promoting companies to hire more women and also helping a variety of startups of all scales to effectively gain business through the platform.
“This way, it’s a bilateral tool where you can share your ideal resources with companies who are looking and vice versa,” adds Pooja.
Investment and word of advice
While the founders raised initial investment for the startup from friends and family, they have been a profitable venture so far with their team size doubled and witnessing 30 percent growth quarter-on-quarter.
SheWork is now looking to launch in the US after a successful stint in India.
While SheWork acts as an intermediary between companies and women looking for work after sabbatical, several giants today have initiatives in the same domain. It is mandatory for companies to provide six months of maternity leave to women in India.
Amazon offers the Ramp Back Program, which enables employees to transition smoothly to work, post their maternity/paternity leave.
Mashreq has put in place, the “Returning Mothers Program”, curated with a special focus on aiding new mothers/women who are returning to work after a career break.
Many companies are taking the plunge, but what distinguishes SheWork is that it gives a platform to small and medium-sized businesses to extend flexible work projects to women who want to rejoin the workforce.
A reluctant entrepreneur, Pooja urges women not to give up on opportunities.
“To run a company, one needs to recruit deserving women. We need to create an atmosphere at work where women can thrive. Also, increasing the participation of women and bringing about a balanced representation of women and men in all sectors will restructure everything. It is time to create a more women-friendly environment within companies,” says Pooja.