Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 04 December 2020


A special anniversary webinar held on 20 October looks back and celebrates the achievements over the past year.

By Job Eloja

With the coronavirus pandemic upending our lives, the Singapore Women in Tech (SGWIT) initiative’s launch last October 2019 couldn’t have been more timely. After all, COVID-19 has ushered in a new digital normal—and with it, a growing demand for tech talent. Despite tech’s historical gender diversity problem, SGWIT’s mission to attract and retain women in tech has never felt more relevant.

To mark SGWIT’s eventful year of advancing gender diversity in Singapore’s thriving tech sector, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) along with its industry, government and community partners organised a special anniversary webinar on 20 October 2020. With the theme “Action for Impact,” the webinar celebrated SGWIT’s achievements over the past year, and provided an avenue for industry insiders to share concrete strategies to achieve gender diversity in the workplace. Here are some exciting highlights from the webinar’s first half.

100,000 strong and growing

In light of COVID-19, a robust tech sector is more important than ever, noted Senior Minister of State Ms Sim Ann in her opening remarks. “Digitalisation is key to a more resilient post-COVID-19 economy and society,” she mentioned. Consequently, nurturing a pipeline of tech talents for the digital economy is now a key priority.

According to Senior Minister of State Ms Sim Ann, the achievements of SGWIT bode well for Singapore’s infocomm industry.

To this end, IMDA has scaled up existing initiatives like the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) and formed valuable partnerships with tech companies like Sea to hire and train Singaporeans in various digital skills. As digitalisation creates new and exciting tech roles, it’s crucial to ensure that women will still have a piece of the digital pie.

“Today, the proportion of women in the infocomm media sector in Singapore is about 30 percent,” said Ms Ann. “With the increasing demand for tech professionals expected in the next few years, we want to inspire and encourage more girls and women to pursue careers in tech.” Indeed, to date, SGWIT has already reached over 100,000 people in the community. Such gains wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of various companies, associations, community groups as well as government agencies equally passionate about diversity, shared Ms Ann.

Still, there are clear opportunities for companies to do more. Highlighting role models, offering opportunities for mentorship and career development as well as having gender diversity initiatives start from the top are a few strategies that companies can take to create future women leaders in tech. 

“We’re just at the start of the SGWIT’s mission,” said Ms Ann. “Let's work towards the day when women are so well-represented in tech that such a movement is no longer necessary."

A walk down memory lane

Though reaching 100,000 people within a span of a year is impressive enough, SGWIT has other achievements to boast about, as seen in the highlights video shared during the webinar. For example, consider its ongoing Students Ask series, where young girls can hear straight from Singapore’s female tech trailblazers like ADDO AI CEO Dr Ayesha Khanna or ST Engineering Senior Vice President Ms Stephanie Hung.

Also worth celebrating is the recent launch of the inaugural SG 100 Women in Tech list, which celebrates local role models in the tech industry. 

Ms Teo Lay Lim, Chairman of Accenture Singapore and one of the 100 pioneering women cited on the list, enthused, “What’s truly exciting about a career in tech is that everything we do can make the world a better place because it’s creating value [and] capabilities that make life easier. That creates experiences much better for all of us in society.”

Another notable achievement would be the MentorConnect programme, which was launched last year alongside SGWIT. A collaboration between IMDA, Dell Technologies, Salesforce and ST Engineering, MentorConnect aims to promote diversity and inclusion through mentoring, leadership and networking opportunities. Since its launch, the programme has benefitted 48 mentees across four companies.

“You look at the energy and passion that comes through, and you find that we learn from each other, just like iron sharpens iron,” shared mentor Mr Eric Goh, Vice President and Managing Director of Dell Singapore. Ultimately, all these activities of SGWIT in the past year exemplify the kind of diverse sector that IMDA, along with its partners are trying to build, said IMDA Chief Executive Mr Lew Chuen Hong. 

Making gender diversity mainstream

To cap off the first half of the webinar, company representatives from Dell Technologies and Microsoft Asia Pacific discussed their best practices in promoting diversity and inclusion in their companies.

Microsoft aims to empower every person to achieve more—and this can only be done when everyone feels included, emphasised Ms Jacqui Miranda, Microsoft Asia Pacific’s General Manager for Surface Devices, during her short presentation.

According to Ms Michelle Saw, Asia Pacific & Japan Vice President of Dell Technologies Select, one maxim that Dell certainly abides by is: “What gets measured gets done.” As a result, the company is aiming to have women comprise 50 percent of their global workforce, up from 31 percent today, and 40 percent of global leaders, up from 34 percent.

To achieve this goal, Dell has embarked on immersive programmes for digital skills and introduced unconscious bias training for its senior executives. To date, 96 percent of Dell executives have undergone this training, enabling them to help all team members feel valued and included.

It’s not just Dell that’s been diving deep into diversity. Microsoft also boasts a comprehensive Diversity, Inclusion and Allyship programme, shared Ms Jacqui Miranda, General Manager for Surface Devices at Microsoft Asia Pacific. “We're looking to really create an environment that allows everyone the space to be their authentic selves in a way that contributes to our culture and upholds our values,” she said. True to their core as a leading tech company, Microsoft achieves this through gamification, online video courses and even hackathons.

All these milestones are but the tip of the iceberg for SGWIT and its partners. With its slew of achievements over the past year alone, it’s time for women in tech to shine. Stay tuned for the rest of the articles in our SGWIT anniversary webinar coverage!

Interested to learn more about SGWIT? Visit the SGWIT website to know more about what the movement can offer.

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