Women In Tech: Malaysia progresses to empower women but more support needed

Women In Tech: Malaysia progresses to empower women but more support needed

KUALA LUMPUR ,. Countries that aspire to advance economically must recognise the importance of women participation in the science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) field.

Global non-profit international organisation Women In Tech country director Yuki Aizawa said although Malaysia is seen as progressive in empowering women’s right, it lacks the needed support to ensure that women could excel in STEAM and other fields in a safe and equal environment.

“Women are the most untapped resources. In Malaysia, big corporations have started to embrace women leadership thanks to ESG (environment, social and governance) requirements and the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals (SDG) that can be measured.

“These organisations have no choice but to come in with sustainability reports and transparency including salary scale, gender pay gap, hiring and retention, among other issues. With these forced factors, cultural shifts will happen and women will have the avenue to speak up and discuss related issues more freely,” said Aizawa.

However, in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which make up 98.5 per cent of all businesses in Malaysia, there is still a big gap that needs to be filled with mandatory support system.

This includes legal framework, policies and engagement with stakeholders to ensure that women are supported fairly in their career journey.

“For example, where there is one women and 10 men working in a technical field, and they have to work overtime, this could be a scary space for women. Therefore, mandates such as anti-sexual harassment (regulations) have to be put in place,” she said.

For the Malaysian chapter, she said Women in Tech is also constantly working to connect and support women via networking events and community programmes.

“Why do we need to produce more female leaders to eliminate the gap? It is because we have seen better decision-making trends and overall company performance improve as women can do equal if not better in certain industries.

“Even girls in schools are doing better than boys. But data showed only 34 per cent of STEAM graduates are women in this country. In the labour force, women make up only 35 per cent of the digital economy, and 55 per cent in the overall economy,” she said.

According to the STEAM/Global Gender Gap Index 2022, women made up 33 per cent of the workforce in 2022 but hold only 25 per cent of leadership positions at the 20 largest global technology companies, she said.

Thus, Aizawa said women must to be supported to advance in self-development.

Gaps such as family culture, lack of female role models, early exit/challenges of returning to work, and the unconscious bias need to be addressed by gradually shifting the community’s mindset.

Women In Tech is headquartered in France and is present in 45 countries/chapters. It aims to impact by building skills and confidence and setting women up for success.

The local chapter was launched a year ago and focuses on education, business (entrepreneurship), advocacy, and social inclusion to encompass projects to empower the bottom 40 (B40) income group. \

— Bernama

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