Just like Michelangelo who already can see ‘an angel’ inside a marble stone that later we know as statue of ‘David’, I also can see how women potential can sparks with technology.
Women have highly potential traits like the ability to multitask; able to use time effectively, they have more empathy, they will think about the community wellbeing first before themselves. All the qualities that will be more powerful when combined with technology.
I wasn’t born knowing that someday I will be a web developer and co-found tech startups. But gradually I build the love of using technology from a very early age. My dad bought me my first laptop and I got to get connected to the world via the internet. I found so many amazing stuff on the internet, new friends from all around the globe, and I learned that all those amazing websites that I’ve seen, I can make them too. Then I started to learn how to code.
It’s being passionately curious, that I believe turn me into a lady that work in technology sector and eventually recognized by the Ministry of Communication and Information Republic of Indonesia, as one of Inspiring Woman in ICT 2013. But now the question is, why only roughly 20% of women, choose to involved in IT industry?
Some women have the impression that working in technology is rather complicated and sounds boring. The fact is, thanks to the rapid growth of internet penetration around the world, now tech companies are among the hottest companies. And yes, you’re already using technology massively. Messengers, social networking sites, blogs, you name it. Women already familiar with technology. But when they’re asked to involve more, most of them giving up before they even try. They prefer not to ‘look that way’ because they’re afraid they will ‘break things’, could be the gadgets or the code.
I have IT background. In university, I hang out with my geeky friends so I get used to be around them and not getting intimidated, and thanks to many hours in computer labs, I got to experiment and ‘break things’ because that’s what I need to do. Create something with computer, whatever it takes.
The result of those years in university, I become a professional web developer, that one day be able to identify a problem and building a solution using technology.
I’m a productive writer and an avid reader. I need to read a lot. When my need to buy books easily and published my own book were not met, that was a big problem. Then I created the solution for my own problem. Along with my partners, we launch an online bookstore Kutukutubuku.com and online self-publishing print on demand NulisBuku.com
With technology I can build my business with almost zero capital (in form of money), and zero budget in marketing. With technology, I can reach my customer all around the world, 24/7. And with technology, I can work anywhere as long as it connected to the internet.
Now you might asked, what if you’re not coming from IT background like me? Easy. Just try to ‘recreate’ my life experience your own way.
To get around programmers or tech enthusiasts, come to their community meetups. In Indonesia, you can come to #StartupLokal meetup. Check #StartupLokal event information on twitter @startuplokal or the website http://startuplokal.org . Once you’re getting used to be around them and start talking about technology like it’s your daily conversation, you can talk to them about your business idea and pitch them to be your partner. He or she can take care of technical side of your startup, and you can build the other part of it like marketing and PR.
You can also meet like-minded girls like in Girls in Tech Indonesia meetup. My partner Anantya, co-founder of Think.Web, and I started Girls in Tech Indonesia back in 2011 to bring awareness about the importance of having more women in technology. So far, we have held many meetups, inviting speakers to inspire more girls to use technology as the catalyst of their success. Follow @GirlsinTechID for more information about our activities.
I have a new insight when I talked to my philosopher friend Tommy F Awuy last week. He said technology come from a Greek word called ‘techne’, means crafting knowledge. So, technology is not the result of creation like what we accept nowadays. Technology is the process of creating, to make a solution. And to make a solution, at first we must be aware of our surrounding and identify problems. That means, we need to start to nurture critical thinking.
Of course nurturing critical thinking must started from school. I remember how timid most Indonesian students when they’re asked in classroom, “Any question?” – room went silent. And that must urgently change. The mindset to create, be creative and courage to take risks could be build by giving women inspiration and successful women in technology role models that they can look up to.
After knowing the core and first effort to change mindsets, then we can go on to the next step of technical training for the specific use of technology.Ibu Betty Alisjahbana from Mastel once show me some results of the survey Mastel conducted in ASEAN countries for 3 categories: entrepreneurs, empoyees and ICT users. Women usually use technology for various purposes, like: search useful information (such as medicine, cooking recipe, etc), selling things online, make online payment, corresponding with email & chat, order or buy online, social media activities, and various activities that can help forming opinions, making decisions and giving support to who needs it.
From the research we can conclude that the technology training that can benefit women includes: creating and managing websites, information search skill, optimizing the use of social media for specific purposes, and more.
Let me spell it again clearly, IT sector need more women. There’s a lot of room to grow and the opportunity is high. Women have the same chance with men, it’s up to us to overcome the barriers and took the advantages.
Let’s start IT, ladies!
Notes: This is my column for Usahawan Nusantara magazine, a regional SEA magazine circulate in 4 countries Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. It’s full of articles, tips and interviews about startups in the region.