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Women in IT

Tough journey

Fair play

 Online Resources

Catalyst, a New-York based research group, a Chinese language site for women

Resources for women

Moxie, Canadian Web site for women

Women and computer science, the women's tech knowledge connection

Tough journey

Such impressive statistics do not, however, make for a smooth climb up the ladder to success.

Yohani who worked in Hewlett Packard and IBM prior to Intel and has spent 12 years in the industry said that women everywhere have had to work harder to prove themselves. Within the Asian context, the need to do so is greater.

She observed that women need to have a strong character to be heard in their environment, but once heard, they will be noticed. "More importantly is the need to deliver. Once they achieve that, it is much easier to proceed," she added.

Corporate communications manager at Malaysia Online, Jenny Ong, said a track record wins the day regardless of gender. Instead of fighting for equality in the local context or for preferential treatment in moving up, Ong reckoned women should learn to hold their own. "Prejudicial treatment is, and will always, exist be it based on gender, age, race or religion," she argued.

The ground rule, according to Ong, is to be able to prove one's worth. Moreover, there is room for improvement as local mindsets change over time.

It is still tough convincing the largely male-dominated management that women are as productive as men. Sometimes the stereotype prejudice against pregnancies and monthly discomforts get in the way of the work in hand. "Let's face it: women do suffer. But why dwell on it? People should just accept it and move on," said an IT businesswoman who refused to be named, but added that the prejudice comes from both sexes.

Situations tend to be more complicated for married women as they are still often the expected partner to handle family and domestic issues. And when they work hard, the family gets hit the most.

Most women acquiesced that they cannot be super heroines. "She cannot be a career person, a great wife, a great mum all at the same time. The trick is to focus and balance the responsibilities. Quality is key and time management is crucial," said Intel's Yohani.

Many women have proved that they are able to juggle family and a career without being overwhelmed by guilt.

Case in point is Dawn Edwards-Hong, personal assistant to Unisys (M) Sdn Bhd's managing director. Having started out with less than a diploma as a secretarial clerk at the now-defunct NCR Malaysia, Edwards-Hong worked her way up the ladder to her current post over more than 15 years.

Today, she holds a first-class honors degree in economics from the London University, a degree attained studying part-time while she was pregnant with her second son. "It was tough but challenging, but I enjoyed it, " said Edwards-Hong who defied the odds and perception that "pregnancies and monthly discomforts" are obstacles.

"Working in the IT industry provides great exposure for women. My job allows me to communicate and interact with individuals from varied departments and companies, apart from taking charge of seven secretaries," said Edwards-Hong, whose husband is also in an IT company.



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