International Women’s Day 2022: Opportunities For Women In Tech

Melita Teo

Chief Customer and Digital Officer,
AIA Singapore

Despite gender stereotype of STEM professionals as dominantly male, there has been a heartening trend of more women employment in tech roles. Digital transformation across the board also opens up more tech role opportunities. Similarly, the talent pool widens to include more women for students, parents and teachers alike recognise the industry’s progression to all things tech, and so encourage female students to select a tech career. Apart from being a viable job, potential female tech professionals are also spurred by testimonials of fellow comrades succeeding in such roles in spite of adversities. 

In commemoration of International Women’s Day, CIO World Asia spoke with Melita Teo, Chief Customer and Digital Officer, AIA Singapore, on opportunities and tips for female IT professionals . AIA Singapore is a leading provider of insurance products to individuals and businesses.

Diminishing More Stereotypes Of Women In 2022

While gender imbalance still exists in the technology sector, it is encouraging to note that there have been more efforts to create and support diversity. More women are also stepping up and dipping their toes in tech roles, especially in this pandemic where we are seeing an acceleration in digital transformation. According to research conducted by BCG, Singapore has one of the highest proportion of women in the tech workforce in Southeast Asia. Women currently make up 41% of the tech workforce in Singapore, surpassing the global average of 28%. 

The main reason why gender imbalance continues to persist today is because women are less inclined to pursue roles in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. This could be driven by the age old stereotype that “boys are better at science and math”. We often hear this stereotype from parents and teachers when we are growing up – and when young girls hear this so often, they may begin to internalise it and accept it., making this a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

This stereotype needs to be diminished – because girls can excel at science and math too. Our skills are developed as we grow and are not dictated by our gender at birth. All of us can achieve what we want regardless of our gender or even our background. 

This could be driven by the age old stereotype that “boys are better at science and math”. We often hear this stereotype from parents and teachers when we are growing up – and when young girls hear this so often, they may begin to internalise it and accept it., making this a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Melita Teo, Chief Customer and Digital Officer, AIA Singapore

The Pandemic And Its Opportunities For Women In Tech

Globally, the Covid-19 crisis has triggered a massive shift to the use of digital technology in education, work and other aspects of our daily life. With this shift, we see this as a chance for women to be awarded more opportunities in technology, lending their expertise, knowledge and experiences as women to help transform our digital products to be more inclusive and beneficial for the wider society. 

Trends In Making Technological Decisions 

In general, we have observed an increased use of data analytics to inform our technological decision making. AIA has been strengthening the customer, brand, health and wellness propositions by advancing enterprise-wide analytics capabilities and usage, accelerating the delivery of an integrated digital experience – while ensuring that high-tech is not a substitute for high-touch. Investments into technology, digital and analytics (TDA) transformation also marries personal touch with increase digital capabilities, revolutionising the way in which customers interact with companies. Another trend in technological decision making is the collective emergence of gender-responsive tech across industries. As more women take on leadership roles in companies and play a more active role in the decision making process, we can expect to see an uptick in inclusive technology. It is heartening to see more women empowering other women through technology by creating digital applications which take women’s health and issues into consideration. This reinforces the value that women in tech bring in designing technological solutions as women are very influential in purchasing decisions for families and spouses. 

Benefits Of Female CIOs 

Inclusivity increases companies’ profitability. Men and women have different viewpoints to technology, having come from different backgrounds and informed by the gender they identify with. With a diverse team, we can bring the best ideas to the table and tap into a variety of backgrounds to develop digital solutions suited for our customers. Women in tech roles also serve as an inspiration for other women who are looking to embark their careers in tech. 

Tips For Women In IT Roles

We need to recognise and acknowledge that the experience and knowledge that women bring is equally valuable. Regardless of gender or background, we can all stand to benefit when we collaborate as a team and learn from one another. After all, inclusiveness helps to drive holistic solutions and adds value to any discussion table, benefitting the organisation, our customers, and society as a whole. 

Heading into a future with greater representation of women in tech across industries conventionally associated with males in tech roles such as STEM, and also industries more commonly associated with females such as healthcare and marketing, it means a greater variety of standpoints will be shared in meetings and conferences. This paves the way for holistic products and services better aligned with and catering to market demands. A note of caution, however, is that companies ought not to just jump on the bandwagon of female representation for the sake of it, but also dedicate efforts towards sustaining the positive impact female tech roles brings to the company. In this way, sustained gender representation and inclusiveness can be achieved in the long run.