The participation of women in technological areas has been increasing, reversing the traditional male predominance that has existed in these areas, especially in Latin America.
To give two examples of this phenomenon, this is what has happened in the area of robotics. In February 2017, the Mexican university TecMilenio organized the PinkHawks team, composed only of women, to represent the university in robotics competitions. On the other hand, the national robotics competition in Bolivia held in July 2019 had a female majority among the contestants.
GLASS CEILING: WHAT PREVENTS WOMEN FROM BECOMING CEO?
Although more and more women are participating in the scientific and technological areas, this is not yet reflected in the management positions of the tech companies. When it comes to promotions or raises, women lag behind their male peers. This effect is known as the “glass ceiling.”
The data shows the seriousness of the matter. In March 2015, the New York Times published an article that highlighted the gender disparity that persists in business today: among the 500 largest companies in the world, there are more managers named David or John than women.
The disproportion is overwhelming. The New York Times article noted that for every woman who runs a company listed in S. & P. 1500, there are four men named John, Robert, William, or James. The journalist Justin Wolfers of the Times called this proportion the Glass Ceiling Index, emulating the index created by the consulting firm Ernest & Young, which revealed that for each woman present at the board of directors of the companies in S. & P. 1500, there are 1.03 men named James, Robert, John, and William combined.
The gender disparity present in business is different around the world. In China, women have a growing presence in the workplace, and the gap is smaller than in the United States. Meanwhile, South Korea is one of the countries with the most marked gender inequality within the OECD.
In Latin America, women have an extensive presence in the Fintech sector, which has been vital for startups to offer financial solutions to needs that banks have ignored. However, the disparity remains in most areas.
IT IS MORE DIFFICULT TO GET FINANCING IF YOU ARE A WOMAN
In an area still dominated by men, women begin to make their way as founders and CEOs of technology companies. For most of them, it has not been easy to find opportunities.
Women get venture capital financing five times less than men. According to the Harvard Business Review, this is partly due to the biases of venture capitalists themselves.
While men who do not have a technological background are seen as leaders, women without technical knowledge are perceived negatively, for example.
WOMEN WHO broke THE GLASS CEILING
Therefore, it is important to highlight women who have managed to break the glass ceiling and make their way as senior executives in technology companies. Next, eight women who run technology-based companies around the world.
AGUSTINA FAINGUERSCHTHE SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR THAT CREATED A LABORATORY OF DIGITAL EXPERIENCES IN ARGENTINA
Argentina has promoted technological development and supported the repatriation of talents. However, opportunities for women entrepreneurs are still very uneven. In Argentina, only 15% of women hold managerial positions. Agustina Fainguersch is one of those few women.
Agustina Fainguersch studied software engineering at the Technological Institute of Buenos Aires, and then completed a master’s degree in computer science and participated in a master’s degree in entrepreneurship at the University of Standford. Agustina Fainguersch is currently CEO of Wolox, a digital experience laboratory that specializes in creating digital solutions for different industries.
THE Pioneer GEEK IN SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT IN MEXICO
In Mexico, only 8% of women choose a career related to technology. When Blanca Trevino studied systems engineer at the Monterrey Institute of Higher Education, this proportion was even worse. At first, she felt intimidated because all her classmates were men, but encouraged by her father; she continued her career.
She started working at Alfa, one of the largest companies in Monterrey, in those years. However, he decided that it was best to start his own company, so he founded Softek in 1982, a company focused on software development. Since then, the company has grown considerably.
Currently, Blanca Treviño is the CEO and president of the company, which has more than 9,000 employees and thirty offices around Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
THE BA student THAT BECAME A VENTURE CAPITALIST OF SILICON VALLEY
Currently, the United States is the best country for women entrepreneurs, according to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs. However, this has not always been the case. Caterina Fake had to show in her early years what women have to contribute without technological preparation in Silicon Valley.
Caterina Fake is the founder of Flickr, a platform for sharing digital images, created at a time where camera production was increasing, but there was no place to share them.
After Flickr, Catarina invested in other companies where the human factor is essential, such as Etsy, Kickstarter, and Stack Overflow.
Currently, Caterina is an investor in Yes VC and runs the Should This Exist podcast?
CHUA SOCK KOONG
THE FINANCIAL ANALYST DIRECTING THE LARGEST TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANY IN SINGAPORE
Singapore is the third country in Asia that most support the growth of women entrepreneurs, and, in recent years, it has also been the city with the most growth in this regard. This environment has allowed women entrepreneurs like Chua Sock Koong to test their business skills.
Chua Sock Koong’s career was emerging as brilliant from college. In 1979, he graduated with honors from the University of Singapore. She began working as a financial analyst until she joined as a treasurer of Singtel in 1989. Since then, she began climbing within the company.
After ten years in the company, Chua Sock Koong was named CFO of the company. In 2006, Chua Sock Koong was promoted as CEO of the international group and was subsequently appointed CEO of the company’s deputy group. In 2019, Chua was the first woman in Singapore to be named a member of the Council of Presidential Advisors (CPA).
THE JOURNALIST DIRECTING THE MOST POPULAR INTERNET PORTAL OF SOUTH KOREA
In South Korea, only 3% of women are CEOs in the 500 largest companies in the country. These data put into perspective the achievement of Han Seong-sook, who is now director of Naver, the country’s most popular Internet portal.
Han Seong-sook started as a technology reporter before deciding to start a database search company called Empas in 1998. At the beginning of the millennium, Empas was the second most popular portal in South Korea, after Yahoo. However, with the emergence of Naver, Empas lost popularity and was absorbed by its competition. Then Han Seong-sook started working for Naver, where he would climb with his own merits.
Han Seong-sook influenced critical decisions for the company. In 2017, she would get recognition, being appointed CEO in substitution of Kim Sang-hun, who became part of the company’s board of directors.
THE CHINESE ENTREPRENEUR THAT FOUNDED A SHARED BIKE STARTUP
Unlike in other parts of the world, where the majority of billionaires are men, in China, there are more and more women entering the list of the richest. Hu Weiwei is one of these increasingly frequent cases in the Asian giant.
Hu Weiwei was born in Dongyang in 1982. She studied at the Journalism Department of Zhejiang City University (2000–2004) and began working for the Daily Economic News, a Chinese business newspaper that mainly covers technology news and cars. Subsequently, WeiWei worked in Beijing News and for Business Value, specializing in technology news.
In 2014, Hu founded the GeekCar media platform. Thanks to his contacts in the world of technology and automobiles, at the end of 2015, he formed a team to establish Mobike, a shared bike company. Hu Weiwei assumed the position of CEO of the company in 2018, after the resignation of its founding partner, who disagreed with the operation. Hu resigned from the post later for personal reasons.
THE ENGINEER THAT WANTED TO SHOW THAT WOMEN CAN CREATE GLOBAL BUSINESSES
In South Africa, only 15.7% of enterprises at an early stage are run by women, according to the MasterCard Index. Nneile Nkholise managed to find the opportunity to undertake in that adverse climate, founding 3DIMO, a company focused on sports technology.
As she comes from the technological field, her biggest challenge was to become entrepreneurial, because the financial concepts tormented her. Nkholise says she didn’t have any women as a reference in business. When iMed Tech started her first venture, she wanted to test the hypothesis that women have the potential to do business in the medical sector that can become global conglomerates.
THE MEXICAN WHO MAKES THE BAY AREA SOFTWARE
In Mexico, only 17% of women occupy managerial positions in companies, according to data from the LinkedIn social network. Rosalba Reynoso went from cleaning houses to becoming one of those few women who are CEOs of a technology company.
Reynoso created a cleaning company for the most luxurious residences in the Bay Area. This company made her realize that she was motivated by social justice and the desire to empower women.
Currently, Rosalba Reynoso is CEO of the Blue Trail Software software development company, where he designed a system to ensure the attraction and retention of talent. Rosalba Reynoso promotes the inclusion of women in the field of technology.