Is tech the place for women to thrive?

Singapore is known to be harbouring one of the most tech-savvy population today with its success to emerge as a Smart Nation. The Singapore government in particular have long recognised the potential of tech. This is seen through its committed to support the development of the industry to realise the many positive implications it can contribute to financial inclusion, economic growth, and technology innovation.

With limitless opportunities and benefits to reap in an ever-growing sector like tech, can women play a part in this growth and innovation? We spoke to Delfina Tan, Senior Recruitment Consultant, who shared her take on what it is like having women stepping up in tech.

Are women stepping up in Singapore?

The Global Gender Gap Index 2020 rankings show that Singapore is ranked 5th within the East Asia and Pacific region. Nevertheless, women are still underrepresented at various levels of the tech scene, from board members to regulators globally. Complementing this, a 2019 study by ValueChampion, a Singapore-based personal finance and consumer research brand, placed Singapore second after Australia as the ‘Best countries for women in tech in Asia-Pacific (APAC).

Delfina shared, “In general, I am still placing a lot of male candidates into techno-functional roles where strong and complex technical skillsets are involved. The female placements are mostly within sales or marketing roles. I have yet to encounter a strong female representation for the technical roles which I am working on even though there are preference and demand from employees.”

Nevertheless, studies have shown that women have great capabilities in various other roles such as technical support, user-experience (UX) design, and testing. Putting aside the possibility of unconscious bias, there is still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to balancing the gender gap in the financial tech sector.

 

When women lead in tech

  • Increased stability

According to a 2018 story by the World Economic Forum, having a good representation of women throughout the tech financial system—from both the customer side i.e depositors and borrowers, and the firm side i.e at higher levels of leadership within a financial firm—makes the banking industry as a whole more stable. Interestingly, banks with more women on their boards tend to have greater resistance to stress, higher capital buffers, and a lower proportion of nonperforming loans according to the study.

There is a tendency for a lot of the females to take some time off to take care of their family or their child which may impede stability of the business, many do return to work with Return to Work programmes offered in big banks like the Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

  • Better risk management

A study by Mercer, a workforce management group, shows that by including more women in finance, banks take less risk—which they surmise could yield better financial outcomes.

A series of studies reported on by The Guardian also shows that women make better financial decisions based on risk than men do. Women are less likely to jump into a bubble or jump out of a falling market.

  • Greater relationship management

Women are master relationship builders, which is an especially valuable skill when it comes to managing teams or customers. Various studies have shared that female-led teams offer relational leadership, which fosters bonding and connectivity.

Delfina also added that “there are many communities around the globe that are supporting women in equipping themselves with the right skillset and this is very encouraging to the other professionals to challenge themselves and be proactive in taking up technical leadership roles. There are global organisations like Girls who Code, and local communities like CodingGirls and Women Who Code who offer activities and mentorship to inspire females to excel in a tech based career. Increasingly over the past few years, I am also seeing a lot of female leaders in the space, from CEO of Ensign Infosecurity, Tammie Tham and COO of OneConnect Financial Technology, Rachel Liu; APAC Regional VP, Cloud Security of Palo Alto Networks, Elaine Liew; APJ VP of SolarWinds, Sojung Lee; EVP & GM APJ and IMEA of Infor to name a few.”

Women are breaking barriers and glass ceilings to achieve bigger and greater things. Delfina’s word of advice is to have courage and constantly challenge yourself in the workforce, and never let gender be a form of hurdle.

 

Moving away from just the numbers

Inability to reduce the gap will bring a toll on diversity in the tech pipeline and this may incur adverse impact on our competitiveness as a leading tech hub.

At the dawn of the 2020s, building fairer and more inclusive economies must be the goal of global, national and industry leaders. How is your company driving diversity and inclusion efforts this 2020? Let us know through the contact form below. If you are looking for opportunities in the market, do also reach out. For more industry-related information, do follow us on our LinkedIn page.

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