Emma Ou, ANZ Country Lead for ASUS writes about the importance of having female leaders at the helm of high-profile technology companies.
Australia’s technology sector is arguably the industry which has been disrupted the most in the last decade. Artificial Intelligence, smartphones and gaming devices are all examples that have led the charge. Despite some issues, the industry has managed to stand up tall, thanks to its inherently digital outlook and strong leadership across the board.
When I entered the technology sector, there is no doubt that it was a male-heavy environment but one in which you felt hard work and talent could be rewarded. Today, I lead ASUS ANZ team with the same zeal as I had imagined. I recognise the strides both the company and the industry has made, but at the same time I am conscious that there’s still work to do in order to have a truly diverse industry.
I think the perception that everyone who works for a technology company or within the industry needs to be ‘a techie’ may not be the right parameter to judge. I, myself, am not a huge techie but have always had a curiosity regarding the subject and how it plays such a huge part within consumers’ and businesses’ lives, often without us even being aware. It is critical that women are not put off from applying and entering the technology workforce because they don’t consider themselves a tech buff. If you have the curiosity, work ethic and an ability to adapt, then you are on the right path to success.
The industry needs role models to empower and encourage others to back their ability and ambitions. We have definitely seen an increase in the last five years or so but we still have a long way to go. There should be no reason why in the coming years we don’t see more of a 50/50 split across leadership teams – we’re on the right path but this is no time to be standing still.
I believe that companies have a responsibility to create the right culture. There is no point in hiring talent and then trying to pigeon-hole them into something they’re not and consequently stifling their talent and creativity. We have worked hard to establish an environment where people and women, in particular, feel they can flourish by being themselves. When ASUS was recognised as one of “Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies” for our culture, it in many ways meant more to me than industry and product awards. It is justification that we have established something special, an environment people can thrive in. I am very proud to share that females – including our marketing manager and all our product managers across Australia, hold a number of our senior position roles.
I have also been pleased to see a number of females hired in significant technology roles over the last few months – Cathy Foley being appointed as Australia’s Chief Scientist is one such example. She’s clearly incredibly bright and tenacious and has a long-term goal of increasing diversity within the STEM sectors, it’s great to see women leading and become an inspiration for others pursuing their dreams.
I love working in the technology industry and the strides we have made to integrate more females into the space is certainly noticeable. Increasing diversity is absolutely vital for difference in thought and creativity, more evenly reflecting customers, providing role models and even improving company reputation are just some of the reasons why technology companies really should be taking action.