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Let’s fix the headline: Recognising unconscious bias and nurturing empathy | Life at BYJU’S

Team StoryWeavers|September 02, 2022, 12:29 IST|
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unconscious bias

Tech is not for creative souls.
Women can’t lead a team and also have time for family.
If you don’t have a fancy degree, you can’t get the role. 

Like a terrible headline, these statements reek of casual stereotyping, stemming from biases, ignorance, and a lack of empathy. These are also a result of years of conditioning — undoing which requires a conscious effort to educate oneself and carry out mindful self-assessments. For BYJUites, this means taking part in positive discourses that help with understanding how biases can interfere with our interactions with colleagues and teammates. 

We, as an employee-first organisation, conducted several workshops and discourses that spotlight the importance of recognising unconscious bias, developing empathy, and respectful workplace behaviours. And while we continue to steer meaningful discussions, hear from some of our fellow workers as they share their stories of facing biases and smashing stereotypes.  

Also Read: When freedom meets passion: Three BYJUites deliver a lesson on life-long learning

One of the most important decisions a woman has to make in her life is if she wants a life partner, and what kind of a life partner. It’s because the right partner could positively influence not only her home and life but also the way she looks at her professional goals. 

BYJUite Puneet Kaur Arora’s story is not much different. She tells us, that it’s because of the way she and her husband, Karan Deep Singh, have found mutual understanding and support in one another that they have been able to pursue very successful careers in different cities while still being happily married.  

“A stereotypical statement that I hear from my relatives is, ‘how is it possible that husband and wife are working separately, in different locations? You guys should work and stay together,’” Puneet shares with us. “But this shouldn’t be a blocker anymore when workplaces and teams are open-minded and practical. As a couple, we can decide what we want, and we definitely don’t need the people around us to share their opinions and statements.”

Puneet also shares that this is not an issue exclusive to her. More often than not, she comes across women who find themselves in a similar dilemma. To them, she says, “Often, judgement crops up when you take a step that nobody in your family has ever taken. But then, it’s your life, and you should live it the way you want. If that means, balancing career and marriage, so be it.”

“I have 12+ years of experience, and I have been in BYJU’S for the last six years,” adds the Order Fulfillment Manager, “For me, it’s all about the environment you’re working in. If I had to deal with a negative work culture or not have support from my seniors or not love the work I do, I wouldn’t have felt driven to keep doing what I do. If anything, I am excited to see what the upcoming years in my BYJU’S journey have in store for me.”

Also Read: This Harvard graduate is changing the way students learn with innovative learning techniques

It’s great to have professional training and domain expertise, but you know what also matters? Your ability to keep learning and imbibe new skills. For BYJU’S Director of Engineering, Pranav Tiwary, this philosophy has been a guiding principle. 

“Everyone told me that only those from top-tier colleges, get through large multinational corporations; that once they look at my CV and see the college I come from, I’ll never be shortlisted,” recalls Pranav. And for almost three years, he believed it too. 

“Eventually, I realised that it’s the skills that matter and not whether you come from a Tier I college. If you have the skills and interest to give it your all, then you will be successful in this domain,” quips the BYJUite.

Starting small, Pranav gained experience with various organisations. “I am a hard-worker and have a drive to solve problems through my coding skills. This led me to grow and advance in my career. Eventually, I worked with several multinational companies and finally found my way to BYJU’S,” adds the Director of Engineering. 

Pranav’s love for programming, and a strong desire to succeed, motivated him in his career. “I also had a mentor in my first job, who helped me overcome my inhibitions,  supporting me professionally and personally,” shares Pranav, adding “I think the initial support is important, and mentorship and appreciation from the seniors goes a long way. This is something that I try to bring to my role at BYJU’S as well.” 

Also Read: ‘My career gives me the strength to fight for my son’s future’: BYJUite Sai Sudha advocates for special needs families

With more and more women joining the workforce, one would think that women are suitable for any and all kinds of roles. And while that is true, there are still some jobs and projects that women are unable to undertake, based solely on their gender. 

“The fact that I’m thankful that I’ve never faced discrimination at BYJU’S, kind of spotlights the issue, isn’t it? It should be standard practice for women across all kinds of workplaces,” says Tarisha Mishra, Creative Lead. “But, there are certain locations that women employees are not sent to because they’re considered unsafe. There may be certain jobs that women are not considered fit for. These are real issues that women face because of their gender,” she adds.

But what keeps Tarisha going despite all odds? She says it’s her own will. “I have my opinions and I’m not scared to voice them. We have a responsibility to change the way people think. It’s not just for us, but for the future generations as well,” she says,  adding, “The important thing is to take a stand, but wisely.”

And she applies the same philosophy at the workplace. “There are several unconscious biases and stereotypes that people, especially women, face at the workplace. These have to be handled in a nuanced manner — you can’t get angry, you have to be smart about it,” says Tarisha. “The idea is to do something every day and normalise the practice,” she adds.

When asked about the ways to mitigate gender-based biases at the workplace, Tarisha says, “Communicate your problems to a superior, start conversations with colleagues, and take a firm stand in what you believe.” 

The road to success has its share of pitfalls, and stereotyping is perhaps the worst. Stereotyping negates the capabilities of an individual, which can be stifling. The best way to smash stereotypes is by challenging them head-on. Much like BYJU’S itself, which broke the mould and smashed the proverbial glass ceiling when it comes to edtech, these BYJUites have done the same in their respective domains. More power to them! 

(This story was put together by our Storyweavers, Sutrishna Ghosh and Bidushi Das)

Like what you read? Head to Life at BYJU’S to learn more about our work, people, and the stories that make us unique. To explore job opportunities, check out Careers at BYJU’S.  

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