How can careers in the tech sector be more attractive for women? This was the topic for an event co-organized between EWMD Asia Pacific and Xccelerate, a Hong Kong-based tech education company. Experienced professionals from Hong Kong and Taiwan shared their thoughts about making it in Tech. Moderated by Lesley Cheung, who is software engineer and instructor at Xccelerate, the discussion took off with some polls about the background of the participants. Some got into the tech sector by accident (more important in career planning than many assume), through an internship intended for women, but most speakers suggested that being flexible and open-minded for opportunities is a decisive factor. Tech is an enabling tool for efficiency says Janet Shih, who majored in finance, then got her first tech job at EBay in California before starting her own company that is building a tech community for women in Taiwan.
Paulina Chan, chairperson at IEEE, Hong Kong section, which has 1000 women professionals with science background among its 9000 members has a dayjob is CEO for a think tank, a consortium working with new tech, smart tech, fintech and healthcare. With her long experience she reminds us on a non-tech essential: making sure to come extremely prepared to meetings and pay attention to details.
Petra Bartol moved to Hong Kong from Belgium three years ago and works as a Team leader for Odoo, on the commercial side of tech. In my view, women are better at communicating tech, she says. She also recommends not to let everyone be your boss, do not say yes to everything to be nice.
Revital Shpangental, born in Israel, has lived in many countries before settling in Taiwan. She is the CEO and founder of Anemone Ventures Ltd, chairperson for Women in Business at the British Chamber of Commerce in Taipei as well as a Professor at Prodivence University in Taiching City said that I don’t see gender in a meeting, in my experience, men are often caught off guard with women and willing to share information that they otherwise wouldn’t. This is something to take advantage of.
What are important habits or skills to succeed? Sabine Repport, a mathematician by training and former CEO of Deon Digital, a Swiss company developing smart contracts mostly for the Fintech sector, suggested that a few coding skills are useful, although in the future automated software engineering will allow everyone to write code. For tech companies, being a subject matter expert in an area is key, as is constant learning. Make your know-how actionable and compelling, and be bold. Her curiosity is often stronger than her fear, so the open mind is your parachute. It also help to half the mindset of seeing oneself as a self-employed in order to feel more dependent on your own capability rather than on an employers.
This is just a short summary of a rich discussion, which we hope to continue this year. For more information about Women in Tech this 2020 survey has some more details: https://www.trustradius.com/buyer-blog/women-in-tech-report
Ingrid Reinli and Waltraut Ritter, EWMD Asia-Pacific