Ladies, don’t you find it uncomfortable when you’re in a boardroom and men would automatically assume that you’re someone’s secretary, note-taker or intern despite holding a senior position? Or when HR representatives ask whether you’re planning to get pregnant soon as if it’s a deal-breaker during job applications? Women encounter such scenarios on the daily, especially in male-dominated industries like tech and it feels empowering to be able to talk to women who made it through such challenges and are continuously paving the way for a female-led future. Take it from the women at EmpowHER!
In line with Women’s Month and United Nations’ theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, SME Superapp Enstack hosted a forum specifically designed for women in the tech industry. With the theme “Conversations On Reengineering A Female-Led Future For Tech”, the event focused on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. The discussions explored how women can overcome the challenges of working in a male-dominated field and enable them to take on more significant roles.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Bernadette Romulo-Puyat was present to discuss why financial inclusion, especially for women-led micro-small medium enterprises (MSMEs), is essential in a country like the Philippines where only 39% of women have savings and only 31% have investments and pension.
“Filipinas lead and own the majority of MSMEs in the country. However, these women leaders still face several challenges in financial inclusion such as less economic participation, credit access challenges, and low utilization and knowledge of financial products. Addressing these challenges require interventions in creating an enabling and empowering environment that allow Filipina entrepreneurs to thrive in a digital environment. Technology offers tremendous potential in bridging these gaps so we can set up more Filipinas for entrepreneurial success,” she shares.
To help address this, BSP plans to promote inclusive digital finance, strengthen financial education and consumer protection, enhance access to risk protection and social safety nets, and enhance agriculture and MSME financing ecosystem.
Supporting BSP’s efforts and to bridge the digital gender divide, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has similar recommendations, which were discussed by DICT Undersecretary Anna Mae Lamentillo:
“Bridging the digital gender divide is a requisite of gender equality. But we cannot do this alone. When we talk about women’s rights, we also have to open the dialogue about how men can play a role in this cause; men need to be engaged in the fight for gender equality. We can achieve this by showing the value of providing equal opportunity for women, that women’s participation is critical in our society and in the overall welfare of our nation,” shares Lamentillo.
There were a lot of interesting points and stories brought up during the forum, majority of which I can personally relate to as someone who previously worked in corporate. To sum up the conversation, here are some quotes from the inspiring panelists at EmpowHER:
On fostering women-led tech ecosystems:
“Women are the backbone of economies, and tech is no exception. We’ve seen this first-hand in our interactions with thousands of women-led SMEs that have been embracing digitization through our superapp. By providing different channels to support these businesses and foster strong linkages among women in our ecosystem, we can unleash their inherent creativity to solve problems, fuel economic growth, and drive innovation,” shares Enstack Co-Founder and CEO Macy Castillo.
On empowering women leaders for inclusive fintech innovation:
“Creating a more inclusive fintech industry begins with empowering more women leaders to offer their fresh ideas to spur innovation. Viewing the needs of the current payments landscape through a gendered lens allows us to see how we can create infrastructure that is equally accessible for both men and women,” shares Yangyang Zhang, Managing Director for Xendit.
On mentoring women to advance in leadership roles:
“It is pivotal for women who want to pursue their careers in tech to see that there are women leaders in these fields. Our job now is to help mentorand inspire the younger ones to continue to challenge themselves and continue cultivating their strengths.” shares Ruoshan Tao, Head of Marketing, Shopee Philippines.
On diversity’s role:
“Diverse viewpoints lead to better technology. This Women’s Month, we celebrate the impact of women in technology and encourage the next generation of women technologists to drive innovation,” shares Stephanie Sy, Founder and CEO of Thinking Machines.
I learned a lot during the forum and can only wish that such conversations would continue to help empower Filipinas, not only every Women’s Month, but all year round. We are not “just” women, WE ARE WOMEN and we deserve space even in a male-dominated industry.