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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Thailand sees more women in tech, but more can be done | Tech in Asia

Photo: James Austin Farrell
"The tech industry may be male-dominated, but it doesn’t mean there’s no place for women. Check out what successful women in the tech field have to say." according to James Austin Farrell, editor, journalist and author living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 

Photo: Pexels.

When we think of iconic personalities in the tech industry, men often come to mind. The industry is seen as a masculine domain. And if you look at the ratio of women to men—from developers to CEOs—you’d see a vast disproportion.

Disproportions 
Today, higher management positions globally are still dominated by men. This is in spite of women outnumbering men in attendance and graduation rates at universities, according to a study by Yale University. Research by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) also shows that women are outperforming men at the high school and university levels in most countries. However, UN statistics reveals that women still earn considerably less than men by an average of 24 percent.

It’s not that women perform any worse in tech at the school level, at least in the UK they outperform their male counterparts at GSCE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) and at Computing and ICT A levels. Moreover, women’s participation drops in more advanced levels, accounting only for 12 percent of applicants in computer science degrees and only 13 percent of computer science students in the UK.

Is Thailand seeing a reverse of the trend?  
While Thailand offers little government or independent research on women in the ICT sector, a 2015 study by UNESCO revealed that Thailand was ahead of most countries in terms of women working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

For instance, Thailand had 53 percent share of female researchers in science, technology, and innovation field. South Korea and Japan only had 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Katherine Aphaivongs, a Thai-American and managing director of SavingsAsia and Masii Group (both are B.Grimm joint venture companies) has been tasked to launch Masii.com, a financial comparison portal, as well as grow the comparison platform into other ASEAN countries. Katherine told us she does see a trend in women entering the tech industry: “Women are beginning to turn towards the tech industry more as the market begins to mature. As with any industry, there needs to be a demand.”

She believes that “tech has predominately been a male-dominated industry because of the gender roles that we’ve been assigned since the generation of the baby boomers, i.e. men become engineers and women become nurses.” But she added that with all the evolution of ideas and beliefs, it takes time to see change happen. “As tech is still fairly new in Asia,” she said, “it will take some time for women to realize that, they too, can do reap the rewards of this industry. We can start seeing this from the number of women enrolled in tech-related classes.”

She said that Thailand will definitely see more women working in tech. “It’s already happening,” she said, although she explained that many of these roles are still related to sales and marketing. Nonetheless, she said she is “noticing that more and more women are applying for the technical job postings I have out.”

As examples of Thai women working in leadership in tech, she mentioned Shannon Kalayanamitr of MOXY, Aliza Napartivaumnuay of Socialgiver.com, and Suphajee Suthumpun of Thaicom.

“Over the last 12 years, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in who is applying for tech jobs. In the early days, only 10 to 20 percent of our applicants were female. Last year, the applicant split was 54 percent to 46 percent, women to men,” said Poungthong Thipdang, HR director at Aware, an IT company.

It’s evident when being guided through Aware’s offices and manicured gardens that many of the higher level staff are women, something that might have been an aberration a decade or two ago.

“I believe a lot of our success in attracting female talent is down to a strong leadership team, which is now 19 ladies strong (vs 13 men), and we’ve been able to build a culture that attracts and nurtures female talent.”

Jirakorn Nai Fun or Dew has been working with Aware for the past 11 years and currently holds the position of business analyst. Dew studied industrial engineering at Chiang Mai University when, at that time, engineering faculties all over Thailand were populated mostly by males.
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Source: Tech in Asia  


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