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Filipina executive calls for more support, gender inclusion in tech companies

Aliyya Sawadjaan - Philstar.com
Filipina executive calls for more support, gender inclusion in tech companies
The panel discussion "Breaking the tech glass ceiling: The Filipina as CEO, inventor and enterprising leader" showcased how the tech industry has taken huge strides for women inclusion.
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MANILA, Philippines — For many years, women have been fighting for equal opportunities, including gender equality in the workplace. In fact, women’s contributions have been plenty politically, socially and economically and Filipinas are no different.

The Philippines has been lauded as one of the countries with the best diversity for women representation in the workforce, senior level, and in the pay gap.

However, the country still has a long way to go especially in the tech industry, where men are dominating this particular field. But as more and more women are entering the industry, the tech world is no longer just a “boys only” club, rather a more diverse and inclusive one.

From December 7 to 11, Geiser-Maclang Communications Inc. in partnership with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the Singapore Fintech Festival (SFF), and co-presented by Globe Telecom, held a week-long virtual convention called the World Fintech Festival (WFF)-Philippines.

A first in the country, the WFF-Philippines aims to showcase the best in financial technology practices and to galvanize Philippine industries to accelerate their own adoption of fintech in order to build a more inclusive digital economy through a series of panel discussions from professionals and experts in various industries.

One of the panel discussions, Breaking the tech glass ceiling: The Filipina as CEO, inventor and enterprising leader, meant to showcase how the tech industry has taken huge strides for women inclusion.

The panel included women in senior positions from various organizations that are making a name for themselves in the tech industry including MYNT chief technology and operations officer Pebbles Sy-Manalang.

They shared their own experiences in the tech industry, as well as what drove them to join a male-dominated industry and what areas should be addressed for more women to join the field.

For Manalang, one area that she identified as a possible cause for gender stereotyping in the Philippines tech industry is the misconception that it is only men are interested in maths and sciences, and technology and therefore the industry is only fit for them.

She also observed how many still think that men are more productive than women because women had to take care of the children and the home, or that women are not technical enough.

Manalang debunked these however by sharing that as a young woman, she didn’t feel that men were better than her or that she had to work harder in order to prove herself even when she took up computer studies.

She added that “the Philippines stands out in terms of progress towards gender equality” and that when it came to the ratio of female and male in leadership positions, the country is one of the best in the Asian region.

“If I look closer to home, at Globe, more than half of our senior leadership team are women. My own technology team, the key technology functions within my team are also led by women. So it has been proven that women can succeed not just in tech, but in various fields,” Manalang said.

For many years, the success that Globe Telecom has been enjoying is due to the contributions of its female employees. Harnessing the talents and minds of its women employees and allowing them to hold key positions within the organization.

For Manalang, though she is supportive of more female representation in the workplace, she is not in favor of the practices of some companies that hire women in order to fill a quota.

“I want to make sure that more women are getting into leadership positions based on their own merit, not because on some number that we are trying to hit. Data has shown that companies that are more diverse perform much, much better,” she said.

She later added that there is a need for women to advocate themselves through supporting and mentoring other women.

“Women mentoring women is very important, if we want to see more women in leadership positions,” she stressed.

She further adds that most young women are looking for someone to guide them, how to figure out how to deal with their challenges, and how to achieve their goals. What’s important is to give these young women the time and to talk to them, and to encourage them to believe that anything is possible.

With Manalang and other women like her, the glass ceiling of the tech industry has long been broken. With the technological advancements already in place, more and more women are becoming interested in entering the industry and to contribute in further enhancing it.

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