Beyond Hard Skills: Bridging the Digital Gender Gap for Economic Growth

Lia Golledge
5 min readMay 23, 2024

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THRIVE Webinar

I’m delighted to have shared my insights and experiences at the THRIVE Webinar for Thrivability Matters. Reflecting on my 13 years with Girls in Tech Indonesia and 3 years with Remote Skills Academy, I can truly say that my journey in the tech world has been an exhilarating and rewarding roller coaster ride. As the CMO of Remote Skills Academy and the Co-Founder & Co-Managing Director of Girls in Tech Indonesia, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing and contributing to the transformative power of technology in women’s lives. And it all started with my own journey in tech.

My Journey in Tech

My love for technology began early. At 13, my dad bought me a laptop and an internet connection, sparking my interest in tech. I taught myself to build a website. By high school, I had even started my own web agency. From the beginning, I always loved reading and writing. But my parents suggested I study Information Technology instead of literature, this choice led me to become one of the few women in my university’s IT program.

When I was 5 years old

After university, I worked as a web developer and was fortunate to have a boss who mentored me, boosting my confidence in my tech skills. While I was working in the tech field, I discovered problems within my passion, such as the difficulty of shopping online for books, the difficulty of publishing my book and the struggles writers face in Indonesia. These experiences inspired me to launch my own startups, leveraging technology to solve these problems.

Addressing the Digital Gender Gap

But why, in Indonesia, women comprise only 27% of the tech workforce, with just 12% holding leadership positions? Some key factors contributing to this disparity include:

  1. Access & Infrastructure: Inadequate digital infrastructure in rural areas limits women’s ability to use digital technologies.
  2. Digital Literacy & Skills: Lower levels of digital literacy among women are linked to insufficient education and training opportunities.
  3. Lack of Female-Friendly Training Opportunities: There is a shortage of tech education and training programs that are specifically designed to be inclusive and supportive of women. Traditional training environments may not address the unique challenges and needs of women learners, making it harder for them to engage and succeed.
  4. Socio-Cultural Norms: Patriarchal beliefs and stereotypes discourage women from pursuing careers in tech. Cultural expectations often dictate that women’s primary responsibilities are domestic, which can limit their ability to seek education and career advancement in STEM fields.
  5. Leadership Representation: The underrepresentation of women in leadership roles perpetuates gender biases.
  6. Subconscious Biases in Hiring: Hiring processes in the tech industry can be influenced by subconscious biases, leading to fewer women being hired or promoted. These biases can affect the evaluation of women’s skills and potential, often undervaluing their contributions and capabilities.
  7. Self-Confidence: A significant barrier is the lack of self-confidence among women regarding their tech skills and their ability to learn and excel in technology. This is often fueled by societal attitudes and internalized beliefs that they are not as capable as their male counterparts.

Economic Impact of Closing the Gap

Closing the digital gender gap could significantly boost economic activity in Indonesia. Empowering women in the digital economy can address the shortage of 9 million skilled ICT workers and leverage the potential of women-owned MSMEs, which make up over 50% of Indonesia’s 65.4 million MSMEs.

The HER+ Framework

To truly empower women in tech, we need more than just hard skills. While technical proficiency is crucial, it alone is not enough to bridge the digital gender gap or foster long-term success. Women face unique challenges that require a holistic approach encompassing mentorship, inspiration, and community support. This realization led to the development of the HER+ framework, which is designed to address these challenges comprehensively and effectively.

HER+ framework focuses on creating an environment where women can not only gain technical expertise but also build the confidence and soft skills necessary to thrive in the tech industry.

HER+ framework includes:

  1. Hard Skills Training: Offering bootcamps, online courses, and practical training in digital skills.
  2. Elevate with Soft Skills: Fostering leadership, communication, and problem-solving abilities through workshops and real-world projects.
  3. Role Models & Inspiration: Creating peer-role models, implementing campaigns like the #WhyNot movement to shift mindsets and celebrate women’s achievements in tech.
  4. +Mentorship & Community: Connecting women with industry leaders and building supportive networks through forums, meetups, and advocacy.

The #WhyNot Program

At Girls in Tech Indonesia, we believe in the power of inspiration and community to drive change. Our #WhyNot program is designed to break down barriers and boost the confidence of women in the tech space. Here’s how we did it:

Campaigns and Workshops

  • Monthly Workshops: Cover a wide range of tech or digital skills topics, from social media, coding to cybersecurity.
  • Female-friendly class room: offering a safe space to collaborate, child care, and space for self-care while learning tech.
Getting hair and nails done while following the class
  • #WhyNot Campaigns: Highlight stories of women in tech, showcasing their achievements and encouraging others to ask themselves “Why Not?”

Role Models and Mentorship

  • Mentoring Nights: Exclusive events where women can dine and discuss with successful female CEOs.
  • Pitch Nights: Opportunities for women to pitch their business ideas and receive feedback.
  • Hackathons: Events focused on solving real-world problems, with a high participation rate of women.
70% female participant in a Hackathon to solve gender-based violence problems

Supportive Community

  • Girls in Tech WhatsApp Group and Social Media: Active communities providing inspiration and resources.

Scholarships and Learning Opportunities

  • Girls in Tech Scholarship 2024: Support for women pursuing education in STEM fields continued with paid internships.

Impact

Since its inception, the #WhyNot program has had a significant impact:

  • 1500+ Participants: Over 1500 women have attended various #WhyNot events, gaining valuable knowledge and skills.
  • High Satisfaction Rates: 93% of participants agree that gaining practical knowledge and skills is the most critical aspect needed by women in tech.
  • Strong Networking Support: 78% of participants believe that networking is essential for gaining support and knowledge.
  • Crucial Support Circles: 70% of participants agree that having a circle of support is crucial for their success.

How You Can Get Involved

You can support to increase the participation of women in tech in several ways:

  • Host Events: Organize or sponsor events that inspire and educate women in tech.
  • Share Your Skills: Volunteer to teach workshops or mentor participants.
  • Mentor or Coach: Provide guidance and support to women starting or advancing their tech careers.
  • Hire Women in Tech: Offer internships, freelance, part-time, or full-time positions.

We can do this together. Let’s collaborate:

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Lia Golledge

Founder Coach. Fractional CMO Remote Skills Academy. Co-Managing Director Girls in Tech Indonesia. Author of 33 books.