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Anu Shah

Anu Shah is cofounder and CEO of UShift, a Rocket Internet company offering an on-demand staffing platform aiming to make it easier for businesses to post jobs and get matched with qualified and skilled workers looking for temporary work.

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Women in Tech are No Less Capable than the Men

Jean Liu, the president of Didi Chuxing, is best known for getting Uber’s Travis Kalanick to sell off his china operations to her company

It is no secret that that the technology field is male dominated. Some of the largest household names like Twitter, Apple, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Amazon and Expedia are helmed by men. Amongst startups in America, it is intuitive that women are not well represented. According to Crunchbase, only 17 percent of startups have a female founder in the United States. Here in Singapore, our female CEO representation is the highest in Asia, with women holding 15 percent of CEO positions. However, this is still far from the desired gender equality ratio of 50 percent. Culturally, far too many still view a woman’s role in society as that of being a wife and mother instead of a career oriented individual, while it has been proven in Nordic countries that gender equality in the workplace drives happiness, productivity and employee retention.

But in my frank opinion, the glass ceiling is not impermeable. Not all hope is lost for us ambitious females harbouring dreams of becoming a CEO or owner of a successful startup in the future. Women have gone on to assume C level positions in large corporations, like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, and Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki. In China, half of all tech startups are run by women. Jean Liu, the president of Didi Chuxing, is best known for getting Uber’s Travis Kalanick to sell off his china operations to her company in exchange for a 20 percent stake.

In Singapore, women are also taking on top leadership roles. Hooi Ling Tan, cofounder of Grab, started out as a Mckinsey consultant before leading Grab to becoming the largest ride-hailing platform in Southeast Asia. At UShift, we are trying to follow the footsteps of some of these strong women-led startups in Southeast Asia and have so far grown exponentially to over 30,000 job seekers and over 2000 businesses registered on our platform in just 18 months.

The most commonly asked question is what do women need to get to the top? I believe that women need to take more responsibility for change, especially in the tech world. Some women may think that men know better and they wait for men to push them, which should not be the case. We women are no less capable than men of leading tech companies, we just have to push through and show our strong motivation and drive through hard work. I feel confident that this will lead to the tech world becoming more gender equal in future. For those women out there who are harbouring a dream of becoming a tech CEO or startup founder one day, here are three key pieces of advice for you.

1. You only grow when you are uncomfortable

Staying in your comfort zone and adhering to social norms are sure ways of being a face in the crowd instead of the face that stands out from the crowd. New tasks, challenges, risks are all part of the learning curve that one must undertake to better herself. Pain, failure, and rejection are all par for the course to stand out from the rest, don’t be afraid of it.

2. Make your dreams known

Do not be afraid to voice out your ambitions to your boss, mentor and colleagues. Ambitions should be shared openly to let people know what you want and need to be successful. It serves as extrinsic motivation in addition to your intrinsic drive, lending you a pillar of support to power through the discomfort and rejections that come your way. At UShift, we find it essential to give women a voice, which is why we recently launched our USpeak initiative that encourages women to speak up against sexual harassment in the workplace.

3. Proactively seek out a mentor

Seek out a high flying female technologist who is ahead of you in the learning curve and do not be afraid of taking on a mentee with similar aspirations as yourself. Learn from your mentor the core hard and soft skills which you need to develop to succeed in your field and pass all of it on to your mentees. It pays huge dividends to share, and mentors are also enriched with fresh perspectives and receive social support for their collective goals from like-minded individuals.

Even more importantly, as a woman in tech, don’t be afraid of stepping up and leading the change. It may be overwhelming at times, but stay the course and be strong because you will grow and learn tremendously in these situations. It is our responsibility to make the tech world more gender equal for generations to come and I am certain that we are more than capable.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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