Taiwan Internet Governance Forum 2018 Tech Girls [Part Two]

Written by Ying-Chu Chen, Rio, Peifen Hsieh, Jessie Tang, Evonne Tsai, Hsin-I Chiu, Crystal Tu.

Image credit: US Mission Celebrates Girls in ICT Event with ITU by United States Mission Geneva/Flickr, license CC BY-NC 2.0

Self-awareness is important, and we have choices, and we shouldn’t give up our rights easily.

As we agreed last year, women in Taiwan are blessed, and we should respect other’s choice. But why we do we bother about gender issue this year?

Evonne Tsai and Rio Kao shared their experience in South Korea. Women are difficult to be approved in South Korea. Evonne didn’t have the chance to have a conversation with the other Korean colleagues because they don’t approve a female product manager.

Rio was a team leader in a technology company before. But when she went to South Korea to have a meeting with her team members. All Korean participants thought the only male member in her team is the leader. After she introduced herself is the team leader, the receptionist changed her attitude a lot. Maybe in their culture, how could a new comer, especially a female newcomer to be a team leader?

So, even we know women in Taiwan is blessed, but there are still some bias in Taiwan. There are many female employees in ICT companies, but always male employee to be the team leader or to have more opportunity to be promoted to a senior position.

In APNIC 44, one attendee in the Women in ICT session asked Elise Gerich (the departing Vice President of ICANN) how we could encourage women to speak up in the technology community? I remembered Ms. Ellis Gerish said that is about personality.

We all agreed personality might be a factor, women consider more than men, and need more confident to speak out their own opinions in a conference. Maybe women always have more expectation to ourselves, we don’t speak out easily, even we give up our rights to make the decision or speak it out in a public area.

To have a platform or forum for women is a good way to protect women. Thanks to internet technology, we can share our opinions by blogging, sharing to social media. We have some technical groups, medias for women in Taiwan. Women can share their career, experience and opinions by those channels.

Peifen Hsieh shared the “sit-at-the-table” story famously told by Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, and she added, “once you sit at the table, don’t give your seat up easily.” We tend to see that many women–willingly or unwillingly–are excluded from decision-making in an organization. This unfortunately creates a bad loop in the workplace.

Hisin-I Chiu kept reminding everyone, having self-awareness is very important, we have rights to choose, to contribute, never give up it easily.

Jessie Tang shared the other way to have more confident is to study more about the meeting or conference. Once you understand the topics and theme of the meeting, you will have more confident to speak out your opinions.

Technology helps women to have voice in ICT area, but we need a safer and more gender-friendly environment.

To have a platform or forum for women to share opinions is needed. We need a place, whatever online or offline, to share our professional to colleagues, friends. More women participant in it, we may have more confident and make the positive loop to change the environment.

One of our attendees, Joyce Chen from ICANN, shared her observation with us. She found some panelists have negative self-talk at the beginning, but it almost won’t be happened when a man to speak out his opinion. Men tend to cut off negative self-talks and share their opinions directly. Women should not be apologizing, because there is nothing for them to apologize for. Cutting-off your negative self-talk is important and necessary.

I think we always put negative self-talk first because our society is still not safe enough for women to speak up. The dark side to speak up in public is there are many hate speeches, violence, bullying happened in the internet. When women have rights to speak in public or publish their opinions in the internet, whenever they are talking about gender issues or not, they will be labeled and be threatened.

Women face the hate speeches, harassments in the internet more often than men in Taiwan. Some internet users criticize people because of they are women not by professional skills. They attack their appearance, face, especially in gender. They search their personal data to expose their privacy or personal life. That’s make women feel dangerous and wouldn’t have their own voice.

So, make a safe place is important. IGF or APrIGF may talk about how to empower to women, or accessibility to the internet. That’s important, but to have a safety space to speak is also important.

What we encourage is to make a gender friendly environment.

Technical communities, forums for women may help to change for a while. But the most important is to make the whole society to be a safe place to minority groups, not only for women.

What we need is a better, healthier, and more comprehensive childcare policy.

Women have a special gift to have babies, but childbirth rate is lower and lower every year in the whole world. Women want to do their best in their job, but there are higher social expectations for women to care about families and babies.

I think it probably only happens in Taiwan, parents need to pick up children after school or kindergarten. But parents also need to work at that time. They have to coordinate, and some colleagues might don’t want to cover you.

This policy is not only government policy to child care. It is also related a corporate culture. How to make a childcare friendly environment would be a corporate social responsibility. There are some companies have a kindergarten in their workplace, parents can pick up children after their work hours, some companies have flexitime schemes, and that’s not only benefit parents, also benefits to every employee, they can have more flexible time to enrich their personal life.

We should break the negative loop and create positive loop by ourselves first

Some people satirized a woman, if she is a woman she can have more job opportunities. They don’t review her professional and skills.

Education is important, don’t give the social suggestion to children, let them know gender is not the limitation to what they want to be and there is no relationship between gender and their career choice, a man can be a nurse, a woman can be an engineer.

Rio Kao shared an example in KPCB with us. The partner, John Doerr set in his OKR to recruit an explicit rate of a female employee. He knows clearly that if we want to change the five issues, we need to break the loop.

I totally agree. Put it in KPI or OKR. Others are just talking.

Bitmark tries to make a gender friendly company and have more opportunities for women.

To force a company to hire female employees in a certain percentage, in to KPI or OKR, to be an indicator. That might be a chance to break the loop for now.

If we have more opportunities for women, equal pay for work, equal opportunities to growth up or to be promoted, then we may have more women work in the ICT related industries, and we will have more women model and mentors to encourage and flourish the ICT related industries.

So, I summarized some points below:

  1. Break the negative loop first.
  2. Studying more about an issue before you go to a meeting helps you to have more confidence in speaking up during the meeting.
  3. Building a gender-friendly safe space helps achieve gender equality.
  4. Be brave to share your opinions with your friends and colleagues.
  5. Sit at the table, and once you do, never give up your seat easily.
  6. Cut off negative self-talks. There’s nothing to apologize for.
  7. Make a positive loop from ourselves first.

Our panelists talked about the issues and provided action plans. We will continue to ogranise TechGIRLS events. I hope our observations in the Women in ICT session can be of help for women and younger girls in other countries. I also look forward to having more opportunities to exchanges opinions with other women in ICT in the world.

Ying-Chu Chen, Peifen Hsieh, Jessie Tang, Evonne Tsai, Hsin-I Chiu, Crystal Tu are the panellists participating TWIGF 2018 TechGIRLS. Rio Kao is the moderator. The article is translated by Crystal Tu.

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