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Championing female leaders in a male-dominated industry

Diversity is about being invited to the party, but inclusion means feeling free to dance at that party. The Philippines can be justly proud to be a world leader in terms of female business leaders with 43% of senior management positions in the Philippines held by women – the highest of  43 Countries surveyed in the Grant Thornton International Women in Business, only survey, and well ahead of the global average of 29%.

However, in the information technology (IT) sector the picture is not as flattering as women still make up less than a quarter of engineering students nationwide, and less than a third of information and communications technology (ICT) students.

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels
This is a problem–not just for women, but for the world, as tech has permeated all aspects of our personal and professional lives. Having women in key product development, marketing, and leadership roles has become nothing short of mission-critical for tech companies, as it is for a society that depends on and is shaped by technology.

However, more and more women opt to enter male-dominated industries amidst the low dependency on women in playing major roles. As for global IT solutions provider Unisys, the company believes that employing women as IT professionals is just the first step, then next is helping them grow and develop into leadership roles. In Asia Pacific, 25% of the Unisys regional senior management team is led by female figures, but the company is keen to increase this to 30% soon.

With over 60% of Unisys Philippines employees being female, the company has a good base to work on and has put in place very practical steps to hire and grow existing female employees to senior positions. In fact, in the Philippines, Unisys appointed Maria Victoria Villena to its most senior role of Operations Head.

Unisys has given extra effort and resources into identifying talent and supporting these individuals to be freed from the usual shackles affecting women in the workplace. “We are being helped in terms of recognizing our strengths, talents, and skills and building up our confidence to step forward and take on senior leadership roles,” Villena said.

As Unisys celebrates women’s month this March, it is also a great opportunity for the companies, along with the whole industry to champion women to become and continue to rise as IT professionals, capable of leading what was once regarded as a males-only industry.  

Females tend to network on a different level where there is genuine respect and the bond is stronger because of equal treatment and roles in the journey.

Most women in traditional corporate settings feel they must perform better than their male counterparts in order to take on higher positions. In Unisys, creating separate programs based on non-traditional frameworks have turned many of the most talented and capable women into self-critical, overly cautious individuals.

“We hope that through our programs, we will continue to develop strong leadership skills, find and maintain the right mindset about pursuing career goals,” Villena added.

Focused programs are needed in order to open their minds to the realities of what they are capable of and what they can contribute and how they can rise above those counterproductive behaviors.


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