Published: 14th June 2020
Why the Vedica Scholars Programme is what women need to bridge the gender gap at work
Anuradha Das Mathur, co-founder of the Vedica Scholars Programme for Women, talks about how they're training women to really find their place at the top of the corporate world - and make it count
It's the fifth edition of the Vedica Scholars Programme for Women. Vedica Scholars is a unique postgraduate programme in Management and leadership for women, set up by Anuradha Das Mathur and Pramath Raj Sinha in 2016. Narrating how they started out, Anuradha, a 2016 Yale Greenberg World Fellow, says, "When we started the programme, we first reached out to people only through social media. When our first batch graduated, word of mouth brought in a number of applicants for our second batch. Today, thousands of women apply to our programme, making it a successful one." We speak to her to know more about the 18-month-long programme.
Excerpts from the interview:
What are the changes you have seen in terms of participation of women over the past few years?
We are quite new and a young programme, launched just five years ago. Now, we are in the state of being established. The women who have participated so far are from across the country, and come from different socio-economic backgrounds and various disciplines. This has been possible because we don't see the need for cut-off marks, past performance or specific qualifications. Our philosophy is to be fair in selecting deserving young people for this programme. We already know that women don't have enough opportunities, so if we follow existing assessment systems then we will not be able to change the world for women. Therefore, we look at their potential and willingness to explore the field of business management and entrepreneurship.
How do you shortlist the participants who apply for this programme?
The first round of shortlisting happens based on their application and essay. Then, there is a round of telephonic interview. After that, there is a personal interview. During a personal interview, the panel looks at how interested the candidate is in shaping their career. We also get to know about their academic background, communication skills, thoughtfulness, personality and how they present themselves. We judge them for their financial independence and decision-making skills so that they can make the most of this programme. Apart from this, we look at their knowledge of current affairs, general awareness and their leadership qualities.
The convocation of Vedica Scholars Programme last year
What exactly does the 18-month programme entail?
The programme is a residential one. We had initially planned for it to be a 12-month programme but we realised that that time is too short to see the transformation that we want to see. Our students need to be competitive with great management skills. We spread our management education for a period of eighteen months and supplement it with sessions that we feel are necessary for a woman to be an outstanding professional.
All our scholars are put on a customised and personalised communication track. Communication is the biggest strength of Vedica Scholars. We provide courses and workshops that cover topics on organisational communication, journalistic communication and personal communication. The Writing and Communication Centre partners with the scholars to build on their spoken and written aptitude.
Apart from this, we throw light on Financial Accounting, Organisational Behaviour, Operations, Global Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Technology for Business, Economy, Business Law and so on. We expose our scholars to all sorts of skills before they enter the workforce. Though we know and emphasise that men and women are equal, there are some things that create a difference in the workplace. While we are working to bring this equality, we train our scholars to navigate that world of differences so that they are not taken by surprise.
How many women participate every year in the programme?
Last year, we received 1,000 applications and the class consisted of 70 people for this programme. This year, we have already received more than 1,000 applications and the process of shortlisting is yet to begin. Classes will begin from August 2020.
What are your future plans for this particular programme?
Vedica is more than a programme to us. Our intention is to create an equal world and we need more women who aspire to participate in such a competitive world. We think financial independence is more important for this. The more financial independence there is, the more equal the world can be. We would like to have more than 500 scholars who would be working in different capacities in the coming days. Our agenda is to see that business schools, educational institutions and governments forms a policy keeping women as contributors to the economy and development.