Women in tech face many obstacles: gender bias, pay disparity, lack of representation, and unequal access to educational training and/or leadership opportunities, among other challenges. In India’s tech sector alone, nearly half of working women drop out of the active workforce after five to eight years to take on caregiving roles for children and aging family members, lengthy tasks that interrupt professional journeys and create circumstances, compounded by societal pressures, that make returning to work difficult.
To address this gender gap and help women in India bring their skills up to date to re-enter the technology workforce after career breaks, VMware launched the VMinclusion Taara program in 2019 in Bangalore. The name “Taara” translates to “star” in Hindi, and was selected to represent the bright future and untapped potential of the program’s participants. While return-to-work programs do exist for women, very few focus on upskilling.
Transforming lives: thousands of graduates, tens of thousands more enrolled
Currently in its fifth year, the Taara program has achieved incredible success. With the initial aim to upskill and graduate 15,000 women, the training initiative boasts an enrollment of more than 25,000 women – with a reported 65% actively moving through their learning journeys. Further, another 5,000 women have completed the program and have successfully rejoined the Indian workforce, making meaningful contributions and engaging in the next chapters of their professional journeys.
The Taara program yields a 100% satisfaction rate among former and current participants, with women citing increased confidence and technical skills, as well as the supportive community, as some of the key benefits. Graduates have gone on to be hired by more than 800 companies and leading tech players, including VMware, Amazon, and Microsoft. With a strong focus on breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for women in a male-dominated industry, VMware anticipates deepening its impact by exceeding 30,000 registrants for the program by the end of 2024.
Training and support set participants up for career success
Designed as a unique return-to-work initiative providing upskilling and reskilling in the latest digital technologies, cloud computing, and virtualization, the Taara program provides participants with a 16-week course that includes technical training, mentorship, and professional development opportunities. In addition, it connects women with others in similar situations – as well as holds associations with groups like Gurgaon Moms and Mangalore Moms – to foster support, remove isolation barriers, strengthen soft skills, and surface community resources that can help members better position themselves to thrive in their new careers.
Women with Indian citizenship who reside within the territorial jurisdiction of India and who have been out of the workforce for a minimum of six months are eligible to participate. With strategic implementation including a mixed curriculum of theory and practical, hands-on learning, Taara operates online, free of cost, and allows for self-pacing to ensure program accessibility. VMware Certified Instructors, like Ranjna Aggarwal, work with Taara learners to grow their expertise and prepare for future career opportunities.
VMware values in action: Taara embodies a commitment to excellence
A key exemplifier of VMware’s EPIC2 values – execution, passion, integrity, customer, and community – Taara has been recognized as an industry-leading initiative, earning honors that include an HR Excellence Award for Best Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, a Catalyst Award for demonstrating excellence in advancing women in the workplace and promoting gender diversity, as well as a Golden Peacock Global Award for Corporate Social Responsibility in the category of Women Empowerment, among others. What started as an association with Women Who Code, a program targeting mid-career women who must break and rejoin the workforce with certification programs, VMinclusion’s project has come a long way.
Working toward a brighter future for women in tech
While the gender gap in the tech industry in India – and elsewhere – remains a significant challenge, we’re proud to showcase Taara’s positive impact on driving change. Closing the gap will require companies to prioritize diversity and inclusion, implement policies that support women in the workplace, and create cultures of equality and respect. That’s why making VMware and the larger technology industry more diverse, equitable, and inclusive is a key part of our 2030 agenda. By helping women reskill, upskill, and access resources and supportive communities, programs like Taara can create a flywheel of future opportunities, retaining top tech talent and promoting technical knowledge growth.
To learn more, visit the VMware Taara website, and check out some of the back-to-work stories shared with us.