The Gender Gap in the Tech Industry is Due to a Combination of Systemic and Cultural Factorsby@bttminhphuc

The Gender Gap in the Tech Industry is Due to a Combination of Systemic and Cultural Factors

by Phuc TranFebruary 15th, 2023
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My journey of breaking into the tech industry and overcoming my own challenges serves as inspiration for women who may find themselves in similar situations. I want to share my story to encourage them to keep their passion alive and not give up. Additionally, I will share my perspective on the gender gap and the challenges that many women face in this field.
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The HackerNoon editorial team has launched this interview series with women in tech to celebrate their achievements and share their struggles. We need more women in technology, and by sharing stories, we can encourage many girls to follow their dreams. Share your story today!

Tell us about yourself!

Hi, my name is Paige Tran. While I initially pursued a major in Banking and Finance, my career path ultimately took me in a different direction. Today, I am a Product Analytics Lead at a Fintech company in London. I am enthusiastic about the ways in which technology has revolutionized our world and the way we live our daily lives.

What tech are you most excited/passionate about right now and why?

I was fortunate to start my career with an internship at Microsoft, where I saw firsthand the positive impact technology can have on our daily lives. I was struck by its innovative nature and was inspired to continue down this path. In the first year after Uber launched in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, I applied to work there and was able to gain valuable experience in the tech field. Over time, I have had the opportunity to work in various tech fields, including fraud analytics, payment and chargeback, and product analytics. My thirst for knowledge continues as I strive to learn about the latest developments in areas such as blockchain, biotech, and artificial intelligence, with the goal of changing people’s life and making it better.

What tech are you most worried about right now and why?

I am both intrigued and concerned about blockchain technology. While it is a widely discussed topic, not many people have a full understanding of it. For instance, I am aware that some individuals sold their homes to invest in cryptocurrencies such as Luna, only to see its value crash, without realizing the underlying business was flawed.

This is just one example of the importance of using technological innovations wisely.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of tech?

As an analyst during the weekdays and an amateur photographer on the weekends, I have a passion for both photography and travel. Whenever I travel, I always bring my camera along with me. Coming from Asia, I cherish the opportunities I have to explore the world. Additionally, I have a love for reading and art in general. I enjoy both digital and physical forms of art and also have a musical side where I play instruments such as the ukulele and guitar.

Let's talk about breaking the glass ceiling. What were the biggest challenges you faced as a woman in tech, and how did you deal with them?

From my perspective, there are two main challenges faced by women in tech:

  1. Lack of female role models and mentors: In the early stages of my career, I struggled to find female role models and mentors. Although I was not opposed to seeking advice from individuals regardless of gender, finding a female role model in my field was a challenge. I recall working at a tech start-up in Singapore for nearly 2 years as the only woman on a team of 10. In recent years, I have had the opportunity to meet and be inspired by more women in tech. However, this early stage of my career was certainly a challenge.

  2. Pay gap: The perception of women in tech was not common several years ago, and many people doubted the efficiency and ability of women in the field. Research has shown that women in tech are often paid less than their male counterparts, even when they have the same level of education and experience. This was the case for me as well. In my first few years in tech, I was not aware of the pay gap issue and accepted the salary band offered by my company. I later realized that the band offered to me was significantly lower than those offered to my male colleagues. Over time, I educated myself on the pay gap issue and learned to stand up for my rights and abilities.

Other challenges faced by women in tech include work-life balance and gender bias and discrimination. Women in tech are often subjected to gender biases in the hiring process, promotion decisions, and daily workplace experiences, as the perception that men are better suited for technology jobs has become a norm.

What was the biggest setback/failure that you faced, and how did you manage it?

One of the biggest setbacks in my early career was in my transition to data engineering and machine learning. Despite having the opportunity to work in that field within the company, I struggled to keep up with my colleagues and this resulted in a decline in team productivity. As a result, I was eventually moved back to the business unit.

I felt disheartened by my lack of success and the disappointment I caused to my manager, who had given me the chance, and my team members. At the time, I heard comments from many people that this field was not for me and that there were other paths.

However, my thoughts were “I can learn slowly and don’t mind trying again”. I invested time in self-learning and daily practice, and continually explored new methods and ideas. I eventually found success and was given a second chance. The journey was not easy, but for those who are passionate about their goals, it is worth persevering. It takes determination and hard work to train yourself, but the end result is worth it

What's your biggest achievement that you're really proud of?

Early in my career, I faced a challenge as I ventured into a field outside of my university education.

I took it upon myself to improve my technical skills (SQL, Python, DBT, Airflow, etc) through daily practice, participating in hackathons, and continuously challenging myself with new projects. This dedication paid off as I was given the opportunity to work in 5 different countries - Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. This experience has become my biggest career achievement.

Working in different countries has not only expanded my industrial knowledge and technical skills across both Asia and Europe but has also helped me grow as a person. Living in diverse cultures and being adaptable has taught me how to work in diverse environments and appreciate the unique qualities of different people and countries. While Asia taught me the value of hustling, Europe taught me the importance of finding a balance and doing what brings joy.

In your opinion, why do we see this huge gender gap in the tech industry, and how can we reduce it?

The gender gap in the tech industry is due to a combination of systemic and cultural factors.

  1. Perception shapes reality: Women are underrepresented in tech fields and this lack of representation can be a barrier to entry for other women. Research shows that unconscious biases still exist in hiring and promotion processes, leading to a lack of diversity in tech companies.
  2. Work-life balance: Tech jobs are often demanding and require long hours, making it difficult for women who also have caregiving responsibilities to balance their work and personal lives.

To reduce the gender gap in tech, it is important to address these systemic and cultural barriers through:

  1. Career Orientation: This can be done through educational programs, mentorship opportunities and outreach to underrepresented communities.
  2. Promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace: Tech companies can make a conscious effort to eliminate bias in the hiring process and create a supportive work environment for all employees. Companies can offer flexible work schedules, remote work options and other support mechanisms to help employees balance their work and personal lives.

It will take a concerted effort from the tech industry, government, and the wider society to close the gender gap in tech. But by addressing these challenges, we can create a more diverse and inclusive tech industry that benefits everyone.

Do you have any advice for aspiring girls who want to join the field?

No matter your background or the challenges you face, I believe that "if others can do it, you can too." It may take you longer, as it did for me. I learn slowly, but I never gave up.

Another piece of advice is that "failure builds resilience." Over time, I've come to understand that failure has taught me so much. It has taught me how to pick myself back up and keep going. I am proud of all that I have accomplished so far.