Women in Tech: We Need a Better Plan (Opinion)

Winston Thomas is the editor-in-chief of CDOTrends and DigitalWorkforceTrends. He’s a singularity believer, a blockchain enthusiast, and believes we already live in a metaverse. 

As we celebrate International Women’s Day on today, we face a sobering conclusion in technology: we’re not doing enough. And there are lots of studies to show how badly we’re doing.

Take this observation from a Forrester report, “Advance Your Organization By Improving The Workplace Experience For Women,” by analysts Fiona Mark with Katy Tynan, Nick Monroe, Matthew Guarini, Gordon Barnett, and Kerstin Wehmeyer.

The analysts note that women’s representation in the tech workforce in the last 15 years has been stagnant even though they control 80% of all purchasing decisions. And while women make up nearly 48% of all workers since 1990, the report continues, only 25% of them end up as technology workers. We’ve not just stagnated when it comes to IT; we’ve regressed since 1990.

In reality, this percentage will be smaller if you consider that many STEM-educated women end up teaching or joining healthcare and shy away from tech or engineering fields. And even those who are in tech positions drop out of the workforce midway in their careers for various reasons.

We can’t keep finding excuses for these issues. Blaming it on a small pool talent is short-sighted. If we’re to improve women’s representation in technology (and plenty of research says we should for success), we need to think broader.

Trouble at the top

Gender imbalance in tech begins at the top. We unknowingly create toxic cultures and non-conducive environments for women because they’re underrepresented in leadership. The team at the top is often seen as a “bro culture,” and only 18% of women are CIOs and CTOs.

According to Pew Research, 80% of women in tech say they’re discriminated against because of the bro culture; 66% of men agree. Meanwhile, 30% of women say that they experience sexual harassment because of it.

This non-representation at the top isolates women, hence the urge to leave or underperform. But recruiting a women tech leader is not going to solve anything magically.

Research shows that women tech leaders are getting tired of representing themselves, with 42% of women saying that they have to outperform their male peers to get attention constantly. In short, when it comes to women, tech companies set the bar a lot higher.

In an interview, Christie Struckman, Gartner’s vice president analyst, says that many women face marginalizing behaviors like ageism and the “my idea syndrome,” where a male colleague parrots an idea from a woman without acknowledging it was hers.

To plug the leadership gap and improve representation at the top, the Forrester report advises companies to start looking for their women leaders when hiring junior staff — not after it becomes a glaring problem.

“Build your female talent pipeline now, and do not limit it just to one or two levels below executive. Look at your talent who are early in their career as well as mid-career,” the authors write.

The authors also suggest tech companies actively look for women leaders in other fields and not use a small talent pool as a reason. There’re many highly-capable women leaders, but they may not be in your specific field. But just as how companies in outside leadership to steer companies in new directions, they can also do the same to bolster women’s representation at the top.

Plug the pay and workplace gaps

You can’t resolve gender diversity without addressing pay discrepancies. Perks and benefits only go so far, but ultimately pay represents your worth in a company. It links to self-esteem, and women are at the losing end in tech companies.

“Turnover is only exacerbated when you bring pay equity into the conversation. Women are paid less than their male counterparts, on average,” says Struckman.

“When organizations do not deal with these issues, it is difficult to retain women. Women in technical roles, who tend to leave at the mid-manager level and more often overall, quit their jobs at more than twice the rate of their male peers,” she adds.

Besides normalizing pay (or, even better, pay based on meritocracy and worth to an organization), companies must make the extra effort to remove workplace toxicity. To do that, Struckman advises companies to create the following roles to improve women’s representation in technology:

  • Coach: To help group members develop specific skills or competencies, such as reading data or presenting the information.
  • Mentor: To help navigate career options and decisions. Consider tapping mentors from outside the organization.
  • Ally: To provide support in challenging situations. For example, in a hiring situation, it might be someone who says, “I’ve noticed we don’t have any female candidates. Is that something we can look into?”
  • Sponsor: To advocate for others — expending their political capital to further the careers of others.

We’re recruiting all wrong

The way we recruit is another reason that can be putting women off. The Forrester analysts cite evidence of unconscious bias when it comes to recruiting. It seems women will only apply when they meet 100% of the requirements, while men will apply if they fit 60% of the bill. This is called the confidence gap.

Gartner’s Struckman feels that antiquated hiring requirements for IT roles make it difficult for women. She explains that many tech leaders do not necessarily come from technical backgrounds, yet there is a perception that women tech leaders should. 

“This, combined with research that shows women tend to shy away from jobs they don’t believe they are 100% qualified for, suggests IT teams are artificially limiting their talent pool by recruiting against those outdated job descriptions,” she adds.

The truth is that women approach open roles differently from men. It may be time to reevaluate your job descriptions. That’s what Slack did when they worked with Textio. The latter analyzed job descriptions to appeal to the broadest audience and included language like “last relationships.” It worked.

Gender balancing is a group effort

Too often, addressing gender diversity or the imbalance in women’s representation falls on the shoulders of women. It shouldn’t. This is an organizational problem, and women and men should lead it.

“Gartner has seen an uptick of women in tech employee resource groups (ERGs), which serve as a forum for women to focus and share their experiences and ideas, learn from mentors, hear from guest speakers and develop strategies to navigate their careers. Smart organizations also bring in senior male co-sponsors to reinforce support for such programs,” says Gartner’s Struckman.

The Forrester analysts also point out that managing diverse teams means having different training and development programs. This means tech leaders need to work closely with their CHROs and COOs to ensure the proper support and that the work environment does not isolate women.

“Evaluating candidates and adjusting developing programs in line with their needs is beneficial to all new hires, not just those of a diverse background, and investing in your employees’ development often reduces attrition,” they write.

Tech companies need to actively promote and use those added policies to help women feel included. Often companies will enact new policies in the name of balancing work-life. But when the same leaders who talk about them are not seen as using them, many will feel a stigma of using them, say Forrester analysts.  

More importantly, gender diversity should become part of the technology company’s corporate report card and not a CSR activity. Currently, if we evaluate our performance, we would be getting an “F.” That should be troubling us as diverse teams create more innovative ideas.

Performance of Malaysia’s 5G Network

  • Significant increase in data consumption on the 5G network compared to earlier networks
  • 5G download speeds averaging nearly 650Mbps  
  • Coverage expected in eight major locations (other than parts of Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and Kuala Lumpur) by end-2022 onwards 
  • The network is resilient, with round-the-clock monitoring by state-of-the-art DNB 5G Network Operations Centre (NOC) 

Malaysia’s 5G network is seeing significant mobile data consumption (average 100GB per user) as of January 2022.  

By contrast, an Opensignal report noted Malaysian mobile data consumption (on earlier generation, non-5G networks in Malaysia) for January 2021 came up to 26.4GB per user. This represents a nearly fourfold increase in data consumption on the 5G network compared to previous existing networks.   

Meanwhile, download speeds are averaging 646.25Mbps compared to the 4G average of 30.40Mbps (Average download speeds are updated weekly on the DNB website).  

Ultrafast 5G speeds allow users to enjoy greatly improved digital experiences including low latency online video gaming, streaming of 4K video, and much shorter download times. 

The 5G network has also shown a threefold increase in registered users over a recent three-week period (16th January – 5th February).  

“The 5G network has performed beyond expectations and we are confident in the network’s ability to continue supporting DNB’s commitment of a minimum 100Mbps download speed across the network,” said Ken Tan, Chief Technology Officer of Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB).  

Wing K Lee, CEO of YTL Communications said, “As the first to offer 5G in Malaysia, response to 5G has been very encouraging as customers are experiencing excellent speeds and low latency. We are working with major manufacturers to bring more 5G devices into the market at affordable prices. Together with our various initiatives, such as our #FirstToDiscover5G Campaign which offers a FREE YES FT5G Prepaid Discover SIM Pack, more Malaysians will be able to enjoy the power of 5G as DNB continues to expand the 5G network across the country.” 

The network is resilient, performing as expected, and managed by the state-of-the-art DNB 5G Network Operations Centre (NOC). The DNB 5G NOC will monitor, maintain, and manage network faults, security, and performance KPIs, while leveraging the Ericsson Operations Engine. 

More 5G in 2022 

DNB will ramp up 5G coverage this year and is expected to cover 37.9% of populated areas by the end of 2022.  

This includes parts of Johor, Penang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca, and Perak.  

“We would like to thank the various federal, state, and local authorities and government agencies that are working with DNB to expedite the 5G rollout. They are helping us stay on track for our 5G coverage target of 37.9% of populated areas by the end of 2022,” Tan said. 

An eco-friendly standard  

DNB’s ultra-lean design of the 5G network makes it approximately 15% more energy efficient compared to earlier cellular standards, including 4G LTE. 

In fact, by leveraging the Third Generation Partnership Project’s New Radio (NR) standards, it is now possible to optimise energy usage to such an extent that a combined 2G, 3G, 4G, and full 5G network deployment would consume less total energy than a corresponding network without 5G.  

Source: Digital Nasional Berhad

MetaVerse Green Exchange (MVGX) appoints Eddie Hui as COO

SINGAPORE, March 8, 2022 /PRNewswire/ –MetaVerse Green Exchange (MVGX), a leading digital green exchange, today announced it has appointed Eddie Hui as Chief Operating Officer (COO). Eddie joins MVGX’s executive team, alongside Executive Chairman Dr. Bo Bai in defining the direction of the business.

In this role, Eddie will lead crypto-related initiatives with the aim of creating a bridge between the traditional finance and the digital asset world. This will allow clients to gain exposure to cryptocurrencies while having the assurance of operating within a regulated framework.

Eddie Hui, COO of MetaVerse Green Exchange

Eddie’s priorities lie on enhancing client experience and satisfaction, operational excellence, risk management and the sustainable development of MVGX. With the support of the operational department, Eddie is looking to mobilize the team to achieve MVGX’s long term goals of bridging crypto assets with traditional financial industries, bridging carbon trading markets from different jurisdictions, and bridging illiquid assets in real economy with wider investor accessibility.

With over 20 years of experience in the financial industry, Eddie has worked for leading global investment bank, Société Générale for most of his career. He started in IT, working as a system and network administrator in Japan and gradually moved to a management role. In 2008, Eddie started working with Front Office functions, successively occupying the roles of COO for the Proprietary Trading activity, COO for Fixed Income, Credit and FX, COO for Prime Services and more recently COO for the Equity Market Making desk, operating out of Hong Kong.

Eddie graduated in 1999 from ENSEEIHT (Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Electrotechnique, Electronique, Informatique, Hydraulique de Toulouse), a French engineering school.  He holds a Master of Science in Engineering.

As part of its ambition to strengthen its product offering, MVGX has recently expanded the application of its Non-Fungible Digital Twin (NFDT™) technology towards other products and services and has launched its Carbon Neutrality Management System, available to clients alongside cryptocurrencies and its Carbon Neutrality Token (CNT™), with plans to launch a mobile app by April.

Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of MVGX, Bo Bai, has said: I am thrilled to welcome someone of Eddie’s caliber as our Chief Operating Officer. His wealth of knowledge and experience will undoubtedly help to strengthen and expand our business and client offering. As a leading digital green exchange, providing the infrastructure for our clients to access sustainable, impactful and innovative products is our bedrock and I am confident that Eddie’s expertise will help us take MVGX to the next level.”

Eddie Hui has said: “I am delighted to be joining MVGX at such a crucial time in the company’s expansion as the carbon markets and digital assets space continue to evolve. The team is filled with energy and momentum with a real sense of commitment to deliver and bring value to our clients and to contribute to a greener tomorrow. I am excited to be continuing the fantastic work that has already started in building a system to deliver the best results for our clients, always with the goal to help businesses meet their ESG objectives.”

“My objective is to remain receptive to our clients’ needs and to leverage on the blockchain ecosystem to provide them with the best possible solutions. With MVGX’s agility and commitment to deliver, I am confident we can demonstrate rapid growth and help with the adoption of the blockchain technology, while working towards a greener way of doing business.”

Sunway University’s Female Scientists are Leading the Way in Science in Malaysia

For centuries, women around the world have made important contributions to the sciences and advancement of technologies. However, their efforts and achievements were often not highlighted as much as they deserved. The International Women’s Day is celebrated globally to commemorate the achievements of women while recognising their contribution towards building a sustainable future. In conjunction with International Women’s Day, Sunway University is celebrating its female scientists who have contributed significantly in propelling the University towards being among the top cited research universities in Malaysia.

In line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No.5 Gender Equality, Sunway University has been a pioneer in this sector and have led the way in this aspiration through Goal No.4, the power of Quality Education. The University has played a leading role in recognising and acknowledging the role of female scientists in the University, the nation and the world in addressing global challenges and impact.

Sunway University has female scientists across various sectors such as Engineering and Technology, Arts, Medical and Life Sciences, Hospitality and Service Management, Mathematical Sciences, Business, English Language and Sustainable Development. The University’s female researchers collaborate with experts locally and internationally by applying their knowledge to satisfy and advance human needs at the same time ensure planetary health.

Professor Elizabeth Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Sunway Education Group, who was recently awarded with UN Women 2021 Asia-Pacific WEPs Regional Awards for Leadership Commitment said, “SEG as a whole is committed to gender equality, now even more so with our commitment to the UN SDGs. Over the 30 years I have been here now, it has been amazing to see the increasing number of women within our campus community, especially academics, researchers and leaders. We are proud of our women researchers who are paving the way forward in the scientific community and believe celebrating their achievements will inspire a generation of young female scientists for the future.”

Sunway University is also committed to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or the UNSDGs, especially goals no. 4 – Quality Education, no. 5 – Gender Equality and no. 10 – Reduced Inequalities. The University fosters gender equality as part of many efforts to build an inclusive work environment, as they believe men and women bring different strengths to the workplace. 

Professor Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood, Executive Director of Sunway Centre For Planetary Health said, “It is often said that women hold up half the sky. As a medical practitioner, with a long humanitarian and development career, I have witnessed the courage, strength and resilience among women in different challenging settings. I am constantly reminded that where women are respected and where gender equality thrives, the entire community benefits from better health outcomes, better education, and stronger community bonds. This is why I am now committed to advancing the University’s mission towards sustainability, of both people and planet as one interconnected system – that is planetary health. As a woman, I know that change happens when we are collaborative, relational, intuitive, empathetic and focus on results, which are inherent qualities of feminist leadership.”

Professor Sibrandes Poppema, President of Sunway University stated, “For the world to step up to a better future, 100% of humanity needs to be involved.” At Sunway Education Group, women make up more than 65 percent of the workforce, including top management roles. Various policies in place including Flexible Work Arrangements for Mothers, Anti-Sexual Harassment, as well as Diversity and Inclusion ensures both female and male employees’ welfare and wellbeing.

SOURCE Sunway University

BEING FEMALE IN MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRIES: Levelling the playing field (Opinion)

Written by Rita Irina Abd Wahab, Vice President Of Public Affairs And Communications, Huawei Technologies (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

Although more women are dominating the headlines, they are still largely underrepresented in many fields, be it in Malaysia or across the globe. Despite efforts to encourage more women to enter Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines, and retain these female talents, the number of men in STEM fields remains much higher. 

The tech industry has seen explosive growth. There is so much more opportunity, competition, and urgency to fill technical roles. However, being in the industry and having had vast opportunities to meet many people from the industry, I realise that gender diversity in tech is nowhere near where it should be. 

According to the Graduate Statistics 2020, the graduate labour force participation rate of female graduates (Kadar Penyertaan Tenaga Buruh Siswazah – KPTBS 2020) recorded an increase of 2.2 percentage points from 79.8% (2019) to 82.0% (2020). This is higher than male graduates which saw an increase of 0.8 percentage points, from 87.7% (2019) to 88.5% (2020). While the percentage of women in the workforce in Malaysia stands at 55.1 per cent, women make up only 35 per cent of the digital economy. Additionally, despite men and women being on the same level in positions in the tech field, men are more likely to receive a higher salary 60% of the time.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias, highlighting that gender bias isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a societal issue. The main focus is to create a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

I personally believe that there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to equal opportunities for career development in tech. Today, creativity and innovation are essential, and women can and should be major contributors to new ideas and businesses. 

The best place to start this is within your own organisation. At Huawei Malaysia, we believe that what we do within our own organisation in terms of developing women talents can serve as a great example for other companies. 

Build a culture that supports women

It is predicted that economic growth and wealth creation in this country are primarily going to come from the tech industry in the future as the ASEAN region is one of the fastest growing digital economies in the world. Equal access to digital technology and participation in professional activities are key to an inclusive post-pandemic recovery. This means there must be provisions of equal opportunities to compete, thrive and access leadership positions. A level playing field is crucial to address this aspect.

Additionally, women entering the workplace already have a major factor working against them due to an assumption of an interest in childbearing. Often known as “the motherhood penalty”, this extends to more than just mothers, though they do get hit by it the hardest. Married women too are often never hired, in fear that they will quit to have children. 

A Catalyst-CNBC survey last year revealed 41% of working mothers felt the need to hide their caregiving struggles from their employer for fear of being penalised or fired.

Research too has found that for women to rise in power in any sphere, political or otherwise, the climb is steeper, the judgment harsher and the barriers higher than for men. 

Leaders are not born, they are made. If the tech industry is to get brighter as it goes along, we have to get a lot better at making the right decisions. If ‘gender-blindness’ is being practised during a decision-making process involving hiring, promotions, roles or project allocations, women will still have the shorter end of the stick as they are held to a higher bar..

The future of tech is female. We must recognise this, embrace this and not miss out on this.

The way forward

Women should not be wary of technology. I believe we need to spread the message about the perks of technology careers. In the technology industry (technical roles), women have access to multiple job opportunities. These roles often come with increased flexibility from working remotely and having more control over their schedules.

To ensure that there is a critical mass supply of women leaders in tech, we must improve education, champion more role models, challenge negative stereotypes and strengthen networking and mentoring opportunities. Furnishing women with the digital knowledge and skills they need to address existing skills gaps will enable them to be active participants in the digital world.

For women to be empowered with digital knowledge and skills, other factors must be addressed to lay the foundation for equal participation. These prerequisites include equal digital access, equal ability to utilise technologies in beneficial ways, and equal ability to gain the requisite basic and advanced digital skills for their marks to be felt in the digital economy.

Huawei has always been an advocate for women in the tech industry. We have pledged to support women with digital technology and hope to grow a mobile tree of digital technology in Malaysia as well as other parts of the world. 

Today, Huawei’s efforts are focused on three initiatives:

a. Providing digital technology and connectivity to narrow the gender gap in the digital domain, to help more women succeed in the digital era.

b. Encouraging more women to participate in the tech industry through activities such as Huawei’s Seeds for the Future, Tech Women’s Award, Huawei Women’s Development Programme and Huawei Spark, where we help women realise their full potential and act as role models. 

c. Huawei has also worked with governments, schools and other organisations around the world to empower women by providing them with ICT training. The digital programmes are already driving local economic growth and talent development. In 2021, Huawei signed a MoU with Malaysia’s Women Leadership Foundation (WLF) to train 2,500 female experts in business analytics, big data, AI and blockchain. There is also a Sarawak Women of Tomorrow (SWOT) Bootcamp being organised by Huawei and WLF from March 19 to March 21, which aims to provide women leaders an understanding of the importance of sustainability, digitilisation and its benefits as well as insights into government policies in Sarawak.

Only about 8.2 per cent of Fortune Global 500 CEOs are women. We must increase this number. We must recognise the immense potential of female talent and empower them to lead the tech revolution.

Budget 2022 provided that Malaysia’s public listed companies must have at least one woman director on their boards from Sept this year, while other listed companies will have to do so by June 1, 2023, as the government seeks to ensure more female oversight in the running of companies. This has been a long time coming and is a welcome move. I also feel that there must be more than just one woman director on the boards as women do make up almost half of the population. Not having our voices heard is akin to not listening to half of the population. However, there must be layers in place to ensure that these are not “token” directors but capable women who can and will bring a difference to their organisations.

There are a lot of codes and policies that promote gender equality, but these are not compulsory. Only when something is made mandatory by legislation do corporations incorporate it. 

Technology should be an enabler, not a barrier. We need to change the mindsets of employers to “want” to hire women, instead of being “forced” to hire them based on compulsion or legislations. 

We also need policies in place by the Government and companies that promote gender diversity. Men must also be part of this conversation. Most decision makers in companies are still men, so if men do not play a part in speaking out for women, then they play a part in the voices of women not being heard.

Being tech-savvy will help women inch closer towards achieving gender digital equality and in levelling the playing field for them. For a level playing field, the opportunities of today must include women, for the jobs of tomorrow to be held by them. We should focus on getting the right people and getting the people right. This is the path to digital inclusivity.

Building a better tomorrow

Huawei Malaysia will continue to be a force of change in this area, one initiative at a time. With our strategic objectives to support and empower the stage for women development, expand their participation and in enhancing their societal positions, we hope to build a better tomorrow for the women of today. Together and collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

Digital female leaders are still a rarity and we should aim for more women leaders in technology to not be the “only” but to be the “among” many others.

If we want to see a better tomorrow, we need to be the agents of change today. Let us use our voices to be the catalyst of this change

Happy International Women’s Day!


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