Women Should Stop Feeling Guilty................

Women Should Stop Feeling Guilty................

An article in Times Of India, Kolkata edition.

Dec 21 2014 : The Times of India (Kolkata)
FOR THE RECORD - Women should stop feeling guilty and learn to prioritize

When she is not mentoring women technologists on how to make a mark in a man's world or giving power-point presentations to her team, Padmasree Warrior is painting or meditating to reboot her soul. The chief technology and strategy officer (CTO) of the $40-bn Cisco Systems, Warrior is one of the most influential people in tech today. Not surprising that she made it to the Forbes list of the 100 most powerful women globally. Her boss, CEO John Chambers, describes the IIT Delhi alumnus as "one of the sharpest technology persons in the world". In an interview with Seethalakshmi S in San Jose, US, Warrior talks about gender diversity and intelligent lifestyles

Internet of Everything (IOE) is the new catchphrase to describe a connected world where people will live smart lives leveraging technology. How powerful is it?

It is very powerful. To me it means an intelligent lifestyle for citizens. Whether it is disposing of the city's waste or the parking problem, it means doing it intelligently . And it is bound to pervade everything... health, education and even farming. It is devices talking to each other to make our lives more convenient. Who knows, the next step would be to do away with a personal assistant and some device (sensor) in your body telling you when is your next meeting. It's all going to happen and sooner than we realize.

What is India's role in the IOE?

India is one of the most happening countries.There is a huge opportunity there. When Prime Minister Modi talks about digitization, this is it. We have the technology , we must leverage it everywhere -across sectors.Look at the traffic in Bangalore, it's atrocious. Can we manage it better? Yes, we can by leveraging technology . As cities urbanize, we must use technology to make it convenient for citizens to live in them. We truly live in an app world -apps today are the oxygen of business.

The tech sector is making rapid strides. Where are women in this scheme of things?

We pride ourselves on technological advancement but we are not doing great at all in allowing women in that space. At least that's what the data says. There are many reasons for this. Women enter the workforce but leave it. They do not see too many role models to look up to.So it's very alienating for them.Even in high school and colleges, science and technology are taught as very abstract fields. We must change this stereotype. Today , companies have a huge responsibility to bring more women into the technology space. At Cisco, we have women occupying top positions. Our ratios are much better.

You once said there's no such thing as a work-life balance and that it's more about integration. Why?

To me balance suggests there is a conflict between work and family, specially for a woman. Women are always seen as the ones caught in a conflict. Hence I prefer to use the word integration. This means the woman has to tell herself it is ok not to be perfect in both. We need to prioritize. There are some days when you must tell yourself that work is priority , so go ahead and give it your best shot. And then if there is a family occasion, the family gets priority . So I am saying, integrate. That's the best way to have both. Parents with young children must integrate their lives with work and their hobbies. Don't neglect anything. That's when guilt creeps in.

But Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi has said women cannot have it all, and they die of guilt....

There is no denying the guilt, because most women always have a prefix or suffix. When someone pays us a compliment for good work, we don't take credit so easily because the guilt that we have achieved this by sacrificing something else is always lingering.

Today , my 20-year-old son is my mentor. He tells me not to feel guilty for anything. I am saying, don't feel guilty . Go ahead and take that break from workcareer. Do what is right. Prioritize and integrate.

What is your detox mantra?

Poetry, dance and painting. I also meditate every day . But I do it at the end of the day though people say it's better in the morn ings. Meditation breaks me from the digital world and brings me to the physical world.After I meditate, I don't use the laptop, phone etc. It's all completely off. I move to reading, painting etc. Every weekend, I host events at my home for women who are engaged in start-ups. I network with them. It's so important for me.

This is my way of giving back to society and encouraging women.