On International Women’s Day, Channel NewsAsia spoke to YouTrip to examine the startup’s culture of gender balance in a sector that’s lagging behind in gender equality.
Inequality remains high in the field of technology. The Global Gender Gap Index, created by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2016, measures and tracks gender-based disparities and progress. It’s designed to create global awareness and challenges posed by gender gaps, and the opportunities that can be created by reducing them.
Credits: Channel NewAsia
In its 2018 report, findings show that there was a 32% global average gender gap on overall gender disparity. WEF reported that it will take 108 years to close the economic opportunity gap, and 202 years to achieve full equality. WEF also reported that only 22% of artificial intelligence professionals are female, and women will find it even harder in the field of technology, where a digital divide is leaving them behind.
Hence, YouTrip CEO Caecilia Chu believes that organisations should embrace inclusiveness as its core culture – one that willingly fosters equal opportunities for all.
The tech industry is still largely dominated by men. What is your experience like so far, and how did you manage to succeed in such a male-dominated industry?
I’ve never felt that gender determines how successful a person can be. But having said that, I think it’s important that women professionals recognise the challenges that would come our way. It’s really about making the conscious tradeoff and sacrifices, or compromises in certain parts of our lives to achieve the wildest dreams that one has. Having that mindset, I think that’s very important.
Credits: Channel NewsAsia
Do you think people in the field of technology are ready to embrace that mindset? Or have they embraced that mindset as well, especially that you’ve seen those who have succeeded like you?
Certainly the industry is changing while there is still a gender gap, especially in Fintech. But companies can play a very active role in closing the gap. For example at YouTrip, we have close to a 50-50 gender balance in across all our offices in the South East Asian region. It’s something that we have done consciously. We have put in a lot of effort in our talent and recruitment strategy, and particularly in building our culture of inclusiveness and openness to ensure that it could happen.
But other firms don’t have the same balance as you do, and they are looking at different ways to close this gap. One of that is gender quotas – do you think this is the right step forward?
i think it’s very hard to make quotas work in today’s fast-changing and competitive world. Companies should start with their culture first, and this is the one thing we have focused on tremendously. We are quite a young company, now at two years old we have more than 70 people. Building the culture of inclusiveness, making sure whether it’s men or women who join the team feel that they are equally respected, equally trusted, and equally supported – that’s really important and core to our strategy and growth.
Credits: Channel NewsAsia
For other women who are trying to succeed in a male-dominated industry, what advice would you give? Especially those who are facing barriers and challenges?
Having the mindset and understanding the awareness that sometimes being a female entrepreneur or female professional is hard, and we really can’t have it all. Having the awareness is one of the first steps. Secondly, it’s important to find a supportive environment – choose the right people, choose the right team, choose the right culture that is inclusive and collaborative, which will help you grow. I hope that there will be more women joining the Fintech industry and YouTrip will be most supportive of them.
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