In 1843, Ada Lovelace wrote an algorithm for a computing machine in an academic paper and became recognised as the world’s first computer programmer. Now, on the second Tuesday of October each year, Ada Lovelace’s achievements are remembered and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are celebrated.
In a male-dominated STEM industry today, there is still a lack of female representation. While this might hold true for the rest of the world, according to a recent study done by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), women in Southeast Asia account for 32% of employment in the tech sector compared to the global average of 28%. This allows women to explore their career and advancements in the tech industry.
We look at back at a few of the inspiring female entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia
Against the backdrop of the growing trend in gender diversity we see today in our region, here are some tips which I believe women should consider to prepare themselves to become a successful leader in the technology sector.
When your work matters to you, finding purpose and creating meaning in your work becomes a lot easier as you feel more motivated to work towards the goal.
Besides knowing your purpose and connecting it to your personal goal, you need to connect it to the larger team and organizational goals to drive mutual success. While you have your own goal to achieve, if you are a people manager, make sure to set clear expectations for your team. Be a mentor and coach to others, use your passion to motivate them and they will see you as an inspiring leader and recognize your value to the organization. Empathy is important too, especially at the moment where work-life balance during the COVID-19 pandemic has become a lot more challenging for full-time working mothers, affecting many in their physical and mental well-being.
As such, women need to be flexible as a leader and embrace a people-first mindset. When there is a problem, tackle it together as a team. When there is success, celebrate as a team. That makes work a lot more meaningful and enjoyable for yourself and everyone else in the organization.
Passion drives success. For example, if you are inspired to help make the world a better place through technology innovation, pursuing a computing and science-related course might be relevant. From predicting natural disasters to combating COVID-19, technology and data science are crucial tools in driving sustainability and resilience. As women, we offer diverse perspectives that can help bring greater and faster innovations to solve world issues.
Bringing your passion to work makes you feel even more committed to finding better ways to improve yourself, motivate yourself to do better and excel in all areas of your work performance. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” Indeed, when you are passionate about your job, you will naturally breed success and pave your way to becoming a successful female leader.
As the world pushes towards greater gender equality, women need to be proactive in looking for opportunities where they can contribute significantly to the workforce, assuming roles and responsibilities that traditionally were filled by men.
The technology industry is evolving rapidly and there are many opportunities for women to be valuable contributors. To succeed in a male-dominated environment like tech and data, you need to be prominent. To do so, you must build trust in your abilities and make yourself heard. Have the confidence to speak up in meetings and use your domain expertise to demonstrate your knowledge. Never stop learning. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or clarify your doubts and take every opportunity to upskill yourself.
Lastly, you need to be proactive and not reactive. Start initiating discussions, explore and brainstorm ideas with others in the organisation. During meetings, draw on the best leadership styles from both male and female leaders that inspire you. Build allyship in the workplace, collaborate across teams and be inclusive – these will all help you gain equity in the workplace. Building trust and credibility takes time, but if you start working on these important attributes early it will help bring you closer to your goal of becoming a successful female leader.
Step up to a newly defined success
The demand for digital technology in this unprecedented time is high. The crisis represents opportunities for women to acquire new skills, step up in their roles and make progress in their career. Many studies have shown that companies are seeing better business performance with gender diversity in the workplace, because men and women’s different viewpoints and ideas are enabling better problem solving in the organization.
The technology industry requires people with an innovative mind and agility. This is the time for women to look beyond traditional roles and responsibilities and bring their unique qualities to bear and drive career success for themselves in the ever-changing and thriving tech environment.
This article was contributed by Tracy Quah, Vice President of Marketing, Asia Pacific & Japan at Informatica
About the author
Tracy Quah leads a rigorous marketing team at Informatica across Asia Pacific and Japan. She believes in using integrated data across the business applications to align marketing strategy with the buyer’s journey to drive business success. She is passionate about helping customers achieve transformative outcomes in their data-driven digital transformation journey. Tracy has over 20 years of marketing experience in the IT industry working with a vast number of partners across regions and continents. She has deep marketing and channel insights from her experience in IBM, where she spent a decade of her career. At IBM, she spent two years pioneering and opening 35 offices in geo-cities in ASEAN. After which, she led the APAC Partner and Program Marketing team at Red Hat Asia Pacific Pte Ltd. Her prime focus at Red Hat was to drive business growth through new partner ecosystems and acquisition of new customers.