As women continue to break boundaries in their accomplishments globally, their Cambodian counterparts are also striving to achieve the same – with strong female figureheads and business owners becoming more and more common.
Despite this, there remains a distinct lack of female presence in the technology sector.
Step in “She Loves Tech”, the world’s largest start-up competition, which aims to get women involved in the male-dominated sector by creating opportunities for them.
She Loves Tech was founded in 2015 with the aim to encourage women to stand up and use their potential in the field of technology. Today, it is a global platform committed to building entrepreneurship and innovation which creates opportunities for women.
The competition, coming to Cambodia for the first time this year, has been co-organised by She Loves Tech and Raintree, in partnership with the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, Ministry of Finance, Khmer Enterprise and Global Shapers Phnom Penh Hub.
Co-founder of She Loves Tech, Virginia Tan, said: “Without women, we are unable to solve the world’s greatest challenges. Women represent a new generation of innovation.”
Leanne Robers, also a co-founder of the tech initiative, added: “Empowering women in technology will change the way we live and work. Our competition is one of the best ways to springboard that change.”
According to a global UNESCO study in 2017 on girls and women’s education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), only 30 percent of female students in higher education chose to pursue STEM-related fields. It also stated that female enrolment in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) was the lowest, accounting for only three percent of applicants.
Director of ICT Policy Department of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Tan Sodany said there are many reasons for women’s absence from tech-related fields.
“We have conducted research on the issue and found that women are less interested in tech because of pressure to work in traditional sectors, a lack of encouragement to enrol in tech-related fields by family and friends and also the fact that there are not currently many female role models to aspire to in the field,” she said.
“Because of this, we have launched the Women in Tech Awards programme to recognise outstanding women in the sector, so that they can eventually become the role models for other women,” she added.
Although the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications is doing its part, with initiatives like the Cambodian Women in Tech Awards – which announced five female winners last week – gender diversity remains a challenge.
The first-place winner of She Loves Tech Cambodia will go on to represent the Kingdom in the international finals, which will be held in Singapore for an equity-free cash prize of $15,000.
The winner will also receive mentorship prizes, fast track access to She Loves Tech’s partner funds and accelerator programmes, in-house advisory services and business-boosting media coverage.
Application for She Loves Tech Cambodia is open from August 1 to 31.