Coder Challenges Male Dominance in IT

Nou Sotheavy / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Suy Channe, 34, is a female coder and regional lead at Innovation Lab SEA (InSTEDD). Photo: Saoyuth Dara

PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Suy Channe, at 34 years of age, is becoming a familiar face in Cambodia’s IT sector as a female coder and regional leader at Innovation Lab SEA (InSTEDD).

Born in Kampong Cham province, her family moved to Phnom Penh when she was a young child because her parents wanted to provide their children with a better education that the city could provide.

The Risk of the Click

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After finishing high school in 1998, Ms. Channe was interested in a new course being offered in Cambodia – computer science. 

“I didn’t have a computer and had never even used a computer,” Ms. Channe recalls about her risky decision to enter a field she knew little about. “But I did know that IT is on the rise and that it would give me a promising future.”

Her family supported her in that decision, but her parents warned her and her sibling that there wouldn’t be an inheritance should they fail to be successful in their careers. Ms. Channe’s parents had worked hard to provide their children with a decent education and advised them to be wise in their career choices.

A break came in Ms. Channe’s career when she was in her third year as an undergraduate. For two years she worked as a software programmer in a technology company in Phnom Penh, before she won a scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in Computer Applications in Bangalore, India. 

Working in the IT sector for over 10 years, Ms. Channe has experienced different positions – from computer programmer and manager of an organization to overseeing a regional business. Through her experiences she noticed that many group projects would be awarded to men and that a senior position was more readily given to a man than woman, even though she was the senior in the group. 

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“Although in general the technology sector is mostly open-minded, women with leadership roles need to prove themselves much more than men to be accepted by this male-dominated industry.”

Ms. Channe admits that in order to yield better results, she would sometimes send a male colleague to a meeting on her behalf because of male expectations in the IT sector. 

Love in Cyberspace

A few years ago, Ms. Channe found love and soon married after she met her husband at a technology community event in Phnom Penh during one of his visits to Cambodia. As an Israeli citizen, he works for an international tech company. “I am very fortunate that my husband is very supportive of my work and passion,” she said.

Appreciating his open-mindedness and continuing to learn from him every day is a continuous adventure for her and their marriage. Looking towards the future, she encourages her husband to share his experiences of working in emerging markets. 

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Ms. Channe still wants to encourage more women to enter the tech sector because she thinks it has a high resource demand globally. “It is also one of the highest paid sectors and flexible in terms of work location, especially if you are a software developer,” she explained.

“I’d like to urge women who also want to go into the sector to dream big and follow their passion. In this sector we work in a creative role, which not only makes us a good living but it is a space where we can have a big impact on society through technological innovation,” she said.

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