“Asia as a whole in itself is quite diverse, yet we may not stumble across teams that represent this diversity – I would love to know how do we plan to bring about a change in this,” says Neha Mehta.
Why have you joined the Women in IT Summit Asia?
Being a woman myself, I would feel heavily inspired being in a space with other successful women from different industries, their experiences, struggles, how they cope with them, and how they are still coping with problems they come across often just by virtue of being a woman.
Being someone who likes data analysis, research, and statistics which are male-dominant fields I do find myself lost and not looked at as an “equal” by my male peers. Seeing women combat these issues and still excelling in their respective fields is not only inspirational but also subtly shows how to combat issues such as self-doubt, not being confident enough, shying away from challenging situations, and voicing out your opinion.
I believe resilience is a necessary skill if we want to survive in a workplace or just get through life in general, and I also strongly believe that resilience is learned the hard way but seeing other influential and strong women get through the hard times and sure makes it a bit easier to get through.
Why are you compelled to participate in the keynote fireside chat /why should local and international professionals come and join your session?
I am compelled to participate in this keynote fireside chat exclusively for one simple reason, which is I am eager to see how we evolve and change rapidly with all these new technologies and adapt to these new ways of problem-solving.
Technology at its core might be quite rigid, but different people have different ways of using and interpreting these technologies and using it for problem-solving does excite me because I do want to see how we get to a common ground without compromising the diversity and maintaining minimal conflict due to the differences in thoughts and opinions.
There is no doubt that professionals do have a certain degree and theoretical based knowledge that shapes the way they work. However, there is subjectivity in how these problems are solved, how are tasks conducted, how are things carried out. This subjectivity comes from where exactly does a professional practice (is it an individual society? Is it a collectivist society?).
When professionals of different cultures and backgrounds come together to look at an issue like “economic recovery”, the plethora of solutions and new visions one would get just by virtue of being present in such a diverse group would also allow everyone to look at the same thing from a different point of views and lenses Which also helps tackle the problem of inbreeding.
What other sessions are you looking forward to attending?
I’m interested in the session that would speak about “5 actions to ensure your digital transformation wouldn’t fail” I think it’s quite important to access the pros and cons before jumping into a pool of new technology and digitalisation just because it’s available – I do believe a slow and gradual transformation or even setting clear goals as to what reasons push you to actually opt for digitalisation and whether or not it’s necessary In the first place.
Secondly, I would love to attend the “building multi-cultural teams across Asia” – Asia as a whole in itself is quite diverse, yet we may not stumble across teams that represent this diversity – I would love to know how do we plan to bring about a change in this and slowly work towards inclusiveness and tackling the challenges that come along with it in the coming days.
Why is it important for the wider adoption of tech to build a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive society?
It’s important that while moving forward as a society, especially if we’re talking in terms of technology that we ensure the tech base we’re creating or relying upon is efficient resilient in the sense that the tech base being used should more or less be enough, yes there will be upgradations and changes in tech over the years but choosing an efficient tech base that is affordable, reachable, standardised and not overly complicated so we can ensure inclusivity of all backgrounds, different age groups can progress together.
In your opinion, what are the three biggest barriers facing women in the tech sector, and how do you think they can be resolved?
a.) Asia is mostly a collectivist society, one of the reasons that women aren’t coming forward to work in a sector like this (especially fintech) is because how we still as a society put emphasis on family values, roles are pre divided in society, and are deep-rooted psychologically making finance-related fields more male dominant and women still steer to more nurturing professions (such as teaching, nursing, etc.).
b.) Fintech is a growing field, and although a lot of people have heard about it, (statistically speaking Now 96% of consumers know at least one FinTech service and ¾ of them have used one before. According to Market Data Forecast, the global FinTech is growing at a CAGR of 23.41%) Not a lot of people are aware of the educational backgrounds required to get into one, the majority of the younger generation relies on perceived abilities to get into a specific major or sector.
Research actually demonstrates the prediction of women and their scope of getting into a STEM major. However, recent research suggests that young girls are increasingly successful in secondary and postsecondary education, including science course completion. Yet, the results still indicate the gender gaps in STEM-related fields. (Nix, 2015).
This roots in the preconception of having excellent mathematical abilities to get into any technology-related field. The problem does not start at the university level. It goes way back in secondary schooling years were due to lack of education and the hyper fixation of certain subjects being correlated to certain fields more than what’s necessary and actually needed Summarising the three big problems we need to work on if we seriously want to reduce the gender gap in fintech is a) deep-rooted psychological barriers b) lack of education which results in our third reason.
c) perceived abilities stopping young students to explore and venture into new fields.
Have you seen any big improvements in terms of workforce diversity in the sector over the last few years?
There might be some minor improvements, but overall, no, there are no major improvements when it comes to gender diversity. Even if there are women who enter the industry, the retention rate for women in the industry still remains quite low at only 38%; about 50% of these women have come forward to mention how they still face discrimination of some sort in the workplace and not to mention there are not enough necessary incentives provided to women in these sectors (such as paid maternity leaves) which makes the work environment not very comfortable for women (White, 2021).
In your opinion, has COVID-19 permanently changed any workplace cultures/behaviours/practices that will benefit women in the industry?
Covid has forced the workplace industry to adapt to other ways of being productive than just staying at the office. Work from home has become more popular, online mediums are being used for meetings, and there is little to no compulsion for people actually to come in person and work together. The digitalisation of workplace activities may not have benefitted women yet but surely will if the industry is keen to tailor some of their workplace culture rules and regulations to make it more comfortable for women. Women, who may not always be available to come and work in person but do have the necessary skillset and abilities to provide companies with useful inputs.
Reference list Samantha Nix, (2015): Perceived mathematical ability under challenge: a longitudinal perspective on sex segregation among STEM degree fields, retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00530 Sarah White (2021): Women in tech statistics: The hard truths of an uphill battle Retrieved from https://www.cio.com/article/3516012/women-in-tech-statistics-the-hard-truths-of-an-uphill-battle.html