Women execs say it as it is about working in modern tech industry

March 07, 2024 - 07:59
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, March 8, women entrepreneurs share with Việt Nam News about the advantages and challenges facing women in the modern tech sector.

The modern tech sector has traditionally been perceived as male-dominated, presenting both advantages and challenges for women working in this industry.

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, March 8, Việt Nam News reporter Thu Ngân asks female entrepreneurs who now run companies what advantages and challenges face women in the modern tech sector. They also share tech trends in Việt Nam this year, and what their company has do to catch up with them.

Laura Nguyễn, co-founder, Arcanic AI and head of Vietnam, Ava Labs

According to the World Economic Forum, women-founded companies received only 2 per cent of all venture capital (VC) investment in 2022. One prominent issue for women in tech is the lack of peer support.

In a field where mentorship and networking play crucial roles in career advancement, the absence of sufficient female representation can leave women feeling isolated or struggling to find relatable role models.

Technical assistance is among the most asked for.

However, there are multiple programmes supporting women entrepreneurs that women founders can leverage.

When I was with Amazon Web Services, I ran the ASEAN Women Founders Mentorship Programme for three years with two cohorts to support women founders across ASEAN who were receiving mentorship and training from thought leaders in the industry like partners from VCs, media coaches and so on, which showed that top companies in the industry care a lot about making changes and supporting these women founders.

Also, when it comes to gender difference, one significant advantage women founders have is the opportunity for innovation. Understanding customers is important in any type of business, and women founders often bring a unique perspective that can resonate with diverse demographics.

For instance, tapping into markets such as women in tech or femtech can be particularly fruitful. By addressing underserved or overlooked needs, women entrepreneurs can carve out niche markets and drive impactful change.

Việt Nam has a rich talent pool in tech, with overseas Vietnamese making waves globally. Gen AI is rapidly expanding here, driven by global influences and our agile young tech professionals.

I firmly believe Gen AI will democratise opportunities for start-ups in Việt Nam, levelling the playing field. That is why we are dedicated to bridging this technology gap, focusing on bringing Gen AI to SMEs and enterprises.

At Arcanic AI, we understand the transformative power of AI in data management. Our platform empowers businesses to intelligently utilise data, enhancing decision-making and customer experiences by allowing the data to be consolidated in one place and searchable regardless of the format of data, making it 10x more efficient to search for data that you need.

Hương Trần, venture partner at Monk’s Hill Ventures

In light of International Women’s Day, let us talk about women in the dynamic tech sector, who face a wide range of advantages and disadvantages.

Despite recent layoffs, tech is not just a part of our future; it is the future. Tech offers diverse opportunities in coding, design, digital marketing, embracing individuals from all backgrounds. Gen Z especially enjoys the flexible work environment and remote work options.

McKinsey's insights reveal slower promotion rates for women in tech, with only 52 women promoted to tech manager for every 100 men, highlighting a gender gap in career progression.

Additionally, there is a gender pay gap as highlighted by Stanford Graduate School of Business, women earn US$61,000 in their first jobs compared to men's $65,000.

In Việt Nam where women account for only 37 per cent of the STEM workforce, the lack of female role models makes it challenging for women to get mentorship and navigate their careers in tech.

At Monk’s Hill we value different perspectives, and we are committed to gender diversity, which is why our portfolio consists of 36 per cent female founders and 28 per cent female CEOs. We celebrate the progress made so far, but know there is still a lot more work to be done.

On this note, I’d like to contribute my part in welcoming more women in tech by introducing my pay-it-forward initiative, a monthly Female Leaders Breakfast – a supportive community for female leaders to share insights and stories and grow together throughout the rollercoaster ride. Our first Breakfast will be on IWD Friday, March 8; reach out if you’d like to support or get supported.

About the modern-tech trend, I am optimistic about some investment themes: healthcare, education, the rise of the emerging consumer, and the potential of AI.

McKinsey and WEF highlight the economic benefits of investing in women's health, with every $1 yielding about $3 in economic growth, enhancing their workforce participation and income generation. Similarly, investing in education and workforce development directly improves social upward mobility and livelihoods for women and their families.

We believe in the transformative potential of AI, not just in AI tech, but also in businesses that integrate AI to enhance their value offerings.

An example is ELSA, a woman-founded Vietnamese company we have invested in that uses AI and voice recognition to help users improve English speaking and pronunciation.

Phượng Hà, founder & CEO, Metub

As a female CEO deeply immersed in Việt Nam's start up eco-system, the traditional perception of the tech sector as male-dominated resonates with me. This perception can be both an advantage and a challenge for women entrepreneurs.

While it is true that biases and stereotypes exist, making it tougher for women to enter and succeed in tech, it has also spurred conversations and initiatives for change. This shift towards greater diversity and inclusion is not just about equality; it is about recognising the immense value that diverse teams, including women, bring to innovation and success.

Recently I've witnessed a positive shift towards empowering female entrepreneurs in Việt Nam’s tech scene. There is a notable increase in programmes and initiatives specifically designed to support and uplift women in tech. I am also seeing a rise in the number of women taking not just leadership roles in tech companies but also influential roles across the ecosystem, such as at venture capital firms.

I believe both men and women face challenges in their professional and personal lives. What truly leads to success is the determination to overcome our shortcomings and improve each day.

Gender biases could create hurdles in career advancement as women often have to navigate through a landscape where they might not see as many role models or feel a sense of belonging. However, I think women often excel in social skills, making them effective leaders in today's digital era. Compared to their male counterparts, women are often more attentive to detail and cautious in decision-making. They are strong communicators, more flexible and willing to endure hardships. Therefore, women should leverage their strengths and available opportunities to continually learn and enhance their skills.

In my opinion, the integration of artificial intelligence in business operations to enhance efficiency and performance represents a pivotal trend in the modern technological landscape of Việt Nam in the coming years.

Recognising the transformative potential of AI, we see a unique opportunity to leverage this technology in streamlining our business processes, enhancing product curation and optimising operations, especially in our industry, digital entertainment and social commerce, where the potential application of AI is huge. These areas represent critical touchpoints in our value chain where AI can drive significant improvements.

Đỗ Thu Minh, co-founder and COO, Vuihoc.vn

The first challenge that every woman in the technology sector will face is balancing work, family and relationships. Some people say that women have more multitasking capabilities than men.

I think if we know how to manage time effectively, we can solve anything.

In addition, I believe all positive results come from dedication and extreme focus. To be able to achieve a goal, women need to accept the reality they will have to make certain sacrifices when necessary to achieve their intended result.

Education in Việt Nam is predominantly female compared to the general tech industry. There is only a small group of women who work in the tech sector, which makes networking, seeking advice or becoming a role model in this industry more difficult. Having said that, I believe education technology is a great opportunity for women to achieve success and leadership in the technology industry through the vast amount of knowhow on effectively educating students in classrooms.

I believe becoming a leader in the technology sector will bring huge opportunities and create diversity in the workplace. By leveraging these factors, we can quickly come up with frequent and suitable solutions and innovations.

2024 is predicted to be a year of continued explosion in AI. Enterprises will integrate AI more extensively to strengthen products and services. As a result, they will benefit from improved productivity and new business opportunities.

At VUIHOC, we take integrating AI into our products very seriously. For example, we are developing and integrating AI into our main features that monitor teaching quality of all teachers and classes. AI allows VUIHOC to know whether students are paying attention to the lessons or not, which allows personalisation of learning for each student. — VNS