Internet Governance

Hong Kong Chapter: Why Aren’t There More Women in Tech?

The tech industry in Hong Kong and across the world remains male dominated. Why aren’t there more women and what can be done to fix this?

To mark International Girls in ICT Day, which aims to encourage girls and young women to work in information and communications technology, the Internet Society Hong Kong Chapter organized an event to tackle these questions. Ladies X Tech X Gents: How Are the Three Compatible? brought together four successful developers to lead the dialogue:

  • Ivy Luk, Sales Engineer at Clare.AI (an Artificial Intelligence digital assistant solutions provider)
  • Emma Wong, Organiser of Google Developer Group and Women Techmakers Hong Kong
  • May Yeung, Director of Internet Society Hong Kong Chapter
  • Rick Mak, Co-Founder of Oursky (a web and mobile application development company)

Why are there so few women in the tech industry?

A common observation among the speakers was the high dropout rate of women developers in the tech industry – amid the already low women to men ratio. The speakers noted that it drops from roughly 3:7 at school to 1:10 at work.

One of the main reasons women leave the tech industry is the gender stereotype that it is a masculine profession. From an early age, this stereotype is ingrained by parents in Hong Kong, who discourage their daughters from studying computer science and engineering courses. Even when women enroll in tech-related courses, many do not consider pursuing a career in IT.

Why do we want women in the tech industry? Are there “women challenges” in the industry?

Studies have shown that diversity in companies is important. The multiple perspectives of a diverse team are key to innovation. (For example, a women’s perspective is needed since products are not sold to men only.) Also, women teammates may bring in a different culture and work atmosphere that can boost team morale.

The challenge for women, however, is dealing with macho and misogynist culture within the industry. Speakers also noted that women and men have distinctive communication styles, which means the workplace must be committed to mutual learning and listening to each other.

Another challenge commonly faced by women is the work-family balance due to the high pressure and heavy workload of some technical positions. But Rick Mak pointed out that this is a challenge for both women and men. As a dedicated father who believes that men should take on their share of parenting duties, he too struggles to balance work and family.

What can we do to encourage women to enter the tech industry?

As the tech industry begins to recognise the benefits of diversity, some companies have set a lower recruitment requirement for female developers. The female speakers all disapproved of this approach. They considered this discrimination against women and a reinforcement of the stereotype that women are less competent.

Instead of being offered benefits like the period leave, female employees would generally prefer to have greater C-level support. One of the participants pointed out that all-male management teams can sometimes be insensitive to women’s needs, which could be as simple as providing separate female and male toilets at the office.

Speakers suggested that having women in senior leadership roles would positively encourage other women to join a company, particularly if it is supportive of advancing women’s careers. Women in management positions are also important role models for their juniors.

Another important aspect of getting more women into tech roles today is building a stronger female developer community, where women can help and support each other in navigating the industry, and provide guidance to non-technical women who are interested in joining. In the end, it is all about mutual respect and understanding. The sometimes hostile environment in Hong Kong’s IT industry has its root in gender stereotypes imposed on both women and men. Sometimes, we think too much about a person’s gender roles rather than his or her individual qualities – in other words, people get labeled as either a man or a woman and that is it. At work, let us be impressed by a person’s work ability rather than his or her gender.

Help close the digital gender divide! Join SIG Women, which is open to everyone.

Internet Governance Women in Tech

Girls in ICT Day: Attend the Global Marathon in Digital Skills Development

There’s a lack of gender diversity at all levels in the technology sector. This is partly because the number of female students in mathematics, engineering, computer science, and science is disproportionately low around the world. So how do we close this gap?

Support for the education of women and girls in the ICT sector is consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – in particular SDG 5, aimed at achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls through, among other things, information and communication technologies.

The Women’s Special Interest Group (Women SIG) of the Internet Society is committed to promoting the participation of women in the Internet ecosystem, especially considering the importance to increase the participation of girls and adolescents in Information Technology and Communication.

This April 25, International Day of Girls in ICT, promoted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), aims to reduce the digital gender gap and to encourage and motivate girls to participate in technology careers. With the support of the Internet Society Chapters and local civil society organizations, we’re planning to celebrate the day with a global marathon of training in digital skills development. We want to motivate girls and teenagers to study and participate in ICTs and we want them to see the women who work in these areas as role models and inspiration.

Join one of the face-to-face or online events!

25 April 2019, 19:00 (Hora de Brasilia)
online via Zoom

Burkina Faso
25 April 2019, 8:30-12:30
siège ISOC-Burkina Faso
Team: Micheline KABORE (Vice-présidente ISOC-Burkina), DA Régina modératrice, Linda TRAORE responsable de programme à IPBF

El Salvador
23 April 2019, 14:00-17:00 (hora de El Salvador)
La Casa de Internet de El Salvador, Calle La Reforma No. 249, Colonia San Benito, San Salvador

25 April 2019, 18:00-20:00 GMT
AITI-KACE Accra, Ghana
Digital Address: GA-079-3146
Facilitators (Panel discussion):
Mrs. Awo Aidam-Amenyah of J-Initiative, advocacy cybersecurity for children and women in Ghana
Madam Nancy Dotse high-level technical training for women in Africa
Madam Vivian from the Cybercrime unit of the CID division of Police
Presentation on Social Engineering: Botsyoe Edinam Lily

24 April 2019, 9:00-12:30
Centro Cultural de España en Guatemala (CCEG), 6a avenida 11-02 zona 1, Centro Histórico, Edificio Lux, segundo nivel, Ciudad de Guatemala

24 April 2019, 10 UT
High school girls Conakry common Ratoma

24 April 2019, 8:30-12:30
Cámara de Comercio e Industria de Tegucigalpa (CCIT)
Team:Elena Aguilera (fundadora de Guala Honduras), Sandy Palma, Aleli Castro, Dania Valle (fundadora de Reciclatecc)

Hong Kong
30 April 2019, 19:30-21:00
Zerozone, 9/F, Tungtex Building, 203 Wai Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon
Language: Cantonese
Registration: Prior registration
Fee: Free

25 April 2019, 09:00-15:00
Windhoek Technical High School

25 April 2019, 10:00 a.m.
St. Louis College, Jos

23 April 2019, 14:00-16:00
Edificio #3, piso #3, Facultad de Ingeniería en Sistemas,  Salón de Laboratorio # 3-401 en la UTP

26 April 2019, 8:30-17:30pm
Radisson Decapolis Hotel, Multicentro, Ave. Balboa, Ciudad de Panamá.
Más información. OEA CyberWomen Challenge

27 April 2019
CREATIVENEERS, Avenida Condado del Rey, Mi Condado Plaza, Piso 1, Panamá

25 April 2019, 09:00-16:00
Solusi University Computer Center

Help close the digital gender divide! Join SIG Women, which is open to everyone.

Community Projects Women in Tech

Girls in ICT Day: Shine The Light on Role Models Around The World

It’s no secret the number of women involved in computing jobs has fallen over the past 20 years. In fact, a 2013 report showed that just women held 26 percent of computing jobs in the U.S., down from 35 percent in 1990.

From discouraging diversity reports to stereotypes, to expectations of women.  There are no shortage of reasons why women are choosing to turn their back on careers that are flexible, rewarding, and well paid

But there’s another side to the story – and it’s often one that gets buried.

It’s that woman already out there who are doing incredible things with technology.

Some are engineers, some humanitarians, some are lawyers, and others are artists.

Technology is so much a part of our lives that no matter what our careers – it’s going to be a part of it.

We highlighted many of them here. From humanitarians to engineers – they are using tech to build their careers.  They range from musicians to humanitarians to engineers.

They’re using the Internet and tech to create opportunities that were unheard of before.

And that is key.

Women are changing things online. Everyday. We need to keep telling stories of these women

This is why we started our #ShineTheLight campaign.  It’s a way for everyone to celebrate an amazing girl or woman they know who’s creating using tech to create.

On Girls in ICT day, tag a girl or woman in tech with #ShineTheLight and let girls all over the world know the have allies.

Lots of them.