Earlier this week, women and their allies began celebrating the progress of gender equality. For more than a century people around the world have been marking 8 March as a special day for women—as International Women’s Day (IWD).
This year’s IWD theme is #BreaktheBias. Bias, whether unconscious or deliberate, can make it difficult for women to progress in their careers or even receive the right healthcare.
This month is a particularly special month for NewCampus as 80% of our learners are women. We are honoured to be part of the journal in developing female leadership in Asia and beyond.
”In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued.” — Aung San Suu Kyi
The time it will take to close the gender gap grew by 36 years in just 12 months, according to one World Economic Forum report. Nevertheless, there are significant pockets of progress. Below are some highlights of how and where that progress has been made, and some strategies to help us keep addressing gender inequality.
Aim for snowball effects - Companies with more women in leadership roles hire more women right across the board, according to data from LinkedIn. Being aware of unconscious bias and building strong internal pipelines for promotion will improve hiring rates for women in leadership positions.
Understand more about what motivates women - One explanation of the gender pay gap is that women tend to be less competitive than men in workplace settings. However, new research suggests that women are likely to be more competitive if they can share their winnings as they are often team players. More research in this field could help inform thinking about how best to close the gender pay gap.
Make diversity a priority for startups - Startups with a diverse workforce report almost 20% higher innovation revenues, or proceeds from recently launched products and services, according to the Boston Consulting Group. However, a separate report highlights that few start-ups are actively trying to increase diversity within their leadership teams.
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To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, the team at Human Resources Online has put together a series of stories (featuring more than 140 interviewees). Here's what some leaders across Asia have to say:
Sandra Teh, Chief Culture Officer, APJC, Amazon Web Services - “While building my own team, it is my responsibility to ensure I have no biases – hence I have put together a multi-gender, multi-cultural, and multi-generational team aged 20 to 50. One successful women-specific mentorship programme we host for the community is AWS She Builds, where aspiring women in tech (mentees) are matched with women leaders (AWS mentors), to address uncertainties or misconceptions about the industry, and dispel the stereotype of STEM-related fields.”
Joyce Tee, Group Head of SME Banking, DBS - “To do my part to help nurture the next generation of female leaders, I mentor aspiring young women in the DBS SME Banking team whenever I can. When possible, I also take the time to guide female founders of social enterprises supported by the DBS Foundation, and to encourage them as they build our future crop of businesses of purpose.”
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The term “femtech” isn’t a new buzzword. Coined in 2016 by Ida Tin, the founder of period and ovulation tracker Clue, femtech refers to software and technology geared towards women’s biological needs.
Women’s health issues underserved - In SE Asia, female health is one of the most highlighted topics for women’s rights. Issues such as abortion, birth control, and even menstruation have always been taboo for many to talk about openly. A study by PitchBook found that women spend an estimated US$500 bn in gender-specific medical expenses every year. And yet, only 4% of total research and development targets women’s health issues.
Overcoming gender barriers in venturing into Femtech - One challenge for Femtech entrepreneurs is that the VC funding scene is male-dominated and pitching to male investors who do not personally identify with women’s health issues will be an obstacle. In a survey by Women Who Tech, nearly 50% of women founders were told they would raise more money if they were a man. Meanwhile, 70% of women in tech say they have been treated differently at work due to their gender, compared to 11% of men in tech.
However, courage and understanding of specific cultures of the region, the demands, and the characteristic of the market can propel female entrepreneurs to succeed.
Femtech and the hybrid working environment - Nonetheless, with the rise of more women in the workplace and a shift towards gender equality, there has been an increase in demand for products tailored to meet the needs of women, girls, and others.
Also, with the increasing number of women entrepreneurs and businesswomen in emerging markets, the future of Femtech in Southeast Asia looks optimistic, promising and holds a lot of potential.
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