CyberTouch of The Fairer Sex
ICT Unlimited Magazine, July, 2003
Women (and men) have been using technology to create lifestyles,
gadgets, art and literature before the advent of the Internet.
What impact do you think the World Wide Web is having on the number
of women who now use technology in their work and the manner in
which they use it?
In terms of using technology at work, both men and women would
have similar convenience, and Internet usages. With the Internet,
many women are able to start a business while being a home-maker.
This allows more women to venture into business while still spending
time with their family.
What is your opinion of the new technology-style
of business, where people are casual, wear jeans, do not have
job titles, and bring their pets to work as opposed to the old-fashioned
business environment? Do you think this is either better or worse
For me personally, I feel that it rather fun. However,
when we do meet clients, or have appointments for presentations,
then the formal office wear is more appropriate. For women, I
think that the environment becomes more friendly, and less hostile
as you™re able to bring a part of your own lifestyle and
fashion preference to work.
All the talk of high-flying techie jobs can
be pretty intimidating to a teenager in high school. Where do
we begin to let young girls know that they can make a go of it
too? Where do they start? Where did you start? What was your first
job in the tech industry?
Some teenagers look forward to securing high-flying tech jobs!
I think it important that the family itself is supportive
towards unconventional jobs and promote entrepreneurship within
the children. A great way to let young people know about how they
can also do something on the Internet, are through:-
* role models - case studies of young entrepreneurs who™ve
* school curricular - expanding the IT club to feature more topics
and projects related to the Internet
* job placement / career advancement guidance - organising roadshows
to schools, and colleges to promote the Internet - related jobs
I™m personally non-technical, and had my degree in Management
& Marketing majors. My first two jobs were in the Marketing
and Customer Service in the insurance industry. From there, I™ve
gained tremendous experience on how to interact with people from
various background. After graduating from US, even before I started
work, I wanted to start something on the Net, but wasn™t
very sure of how I should start. It was through a personal development
workshop that I realised that I should take action and work on
achieving what I truly wanted in life. I quit my job (most of
my colleagues thought I was crazy to give up my job for something
new like the Internet) and decided to go with my passion, therefore
co-founded eOneNet.com with some other partners.
How many women do you reckon are now in computing
industries and technology in Malaysia? First-the basics-schools-what
types of software do you see as engaging both girls and boys?
In terms of the computing industries and technology, the overall
number of women has grown tremendously over the years in Malaysia.
However, if we were to look at the industry leaders, or the number
of women in higher management, the number is considered the minority
when compared to the entire industry. As more women climb up the
corporate ladder, the number should go up then. From the toys
the children play with, a lot of new games have utilised technology,
such as computer-based fashion software for girls, versus the
conventional make-up toy figurine. Through analysing the different
needs of boys and girls, then we would be able to introduce relevant
softwares into their school subjects. For instance, for girls
taking home-skills like cooking and sewing, the subject can incorporate
computer based programs for recipe research, and accessing fashion-related
What is your greatest career accomplishment?
AND how has being a women impacted your career?
My greatest career accomplishment was to be selected to represent
Malaysia to the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce
& Industry (CACCI) - IT Committee. In 2003, my website FioneTan.com
is ranked No.1 Top Internet Marketing Coach in Google and Yahoo.
As a woman, I have become more outstandingly recognised. This
has also given me many publicity opportunities. I feel very satisfied
when I™m able to inspire others to achieve more in life
through the Internet, and prompting them to get started to work
on realising their dreams.
In your opinion, where are the best areas
for Malaysian women to pursue IT careers at this time? Do you
still consider Cyberjaya or the MSC as the number one ICT hotbed
in this country?
For Malaysian women, we can either pursue IT careers, or start
your own e-commerce website. Either way, women would need to constantly
upgrade themselves with new skills (not just theorethical books
or courses), especially how the Internet business works from the
marketing aspect, not necessary to study the programming or technical
aspect unless they are involved in the programming area. If you™re
looking at pursuing IT careers, then of course, since MSC companies
have mostly relocated to Cyberjaya, then this is the location
you need to be. If you™re looking at the Internet from a
business owner aspect, then you might just be working on your
e-commerce site from the comfort of your home.
Do you believe that boys are more interested
in how technology works and girls are more interested in how technology
can be used. If that is true in any sense, is it possible to capitalise
on those differences by creating separate educational programs
for boys and girls?
As different people have different interests, then it
important that we choose to work in an area which we enjoy. I
believe that it is best if we have both men and women in all sectors
of technology as then, we will truly be able to come up with softwares,
solutions, and applications that appeal to both genders. Rather
than to determine the educational courses to be taken based on
gender, the educational programs should encourage both genders
to try different programs to enable them to find out their true
Do you think girls and boys are equally well
suited for the same technology jobs or do you think their different
approaches to technology make them better suited for different
types of jobs? For example, might men make better programmers
and women better instructional designers?
Most web programmers and network engineers are males, while women
are more likely to be in customer service, pr, and design. I think
that both genders are equally suited for the same technology jobs,
so it more a matter of the category of interest by
the candidate. As a matter of fact, many men have ventured into
selling women related items like apparel, cosmetics, and fragrances
online although they themselves are not the end users of these
products. Most people would feel that men are more rational while
women are more emotional. When men are looking only on the solution,
the women might consider the other aspects that might be affected
by the solution. As mentioned earlier, on the Internet, the criteria
for the job is based on your performance, not on your gender.
Since there have been more men in the technical courses, that
is why we see more male programmers than women programmers. Give
it a few more years, and we should see a more equal number of
What to you is the single most important asset
a woman needs to make it in the techie world today? Is it enough
to be a brain or is brawn necessary, too?
To me, the most important asset is the ability to take action.
It rather useless to be highly intelligent yet not take
any actual steps towards crystallising your passion. The key is
what they call as œcalculated risks? Give the idea
a thought, and see how it will bring you 2 years, or 5 years down
the road. If you think that the idea is good, then start working
on it, don™t wait for the right time!
Which is more important, education or experience,
or do you consider a mix of the two most important? Can you learn
on the job, or is it important to get a full education?
For those seeking technical jobs, then of course, both the education
and experience would be crucial, otherwise you will not possess
the skills required to complete the tasks. For non-technical tasks,
then even general business-majors is adequate. However, firms
would normally hire people with experience, and possess good working
attitude. For those wishing to start their business on the Internet,
formal full education in IT is not necessary, but guidance from
the proper consultants / web firms are crucial so that your website
can really sell on the Net!
Who were your role models/inspiration when
you were growing up?
I look at different role models for different qualities, for instance:-
* Jeff Bezos for taking the risk to quit his job, and start Amazon.com
* Anthony Robbins for being a great motivator, overcoming fears
and many obstacles to achieve his goals
* Coco Lee, being the first female Asian artist to hit international
To me, I feel that I aim to live my life with passion! It
important to enrich my life with good books, and goals-driven
people so that I can also learn from their persistence, and success.
There are women in technology who make arguments
that, for instance, the Internet is uniquely suited to women because
it favours interactivity. In addition, and in the same breath,
they also say that technology is gender neutral. Can we have it
Technology can become many things, depending on what we want to
make out of it. Some people would see the Internet being a wonderful
tool for effective communication, while some might perceive it
as being œmachine-oriented?with the loss of the œhuman
side?interaction. I believe that good things come in moderation,
and we can have the Internet benefit both men and women, alike.
Many technological companies favour an adversarial
working approach as to survive in a globalised economy which is
based on the values of competitiveness. Is this one of the barriers
women face in today's working environment?
Where there business, there bound to be competition.
With the rise of the Internet, many companies are involved in
highly aggressive business environment with global competitors.
Therefore, in order to grow, and even to just survive, companies
would be looking at employees who are able to perform and complete
the tasks. Companies are also more prone to hire employees that
share the same vision, and embrace the company goals.
It become rather common to have performance-based remuneration
in technology companies, as time and financial resources are vital.
If the employee, irregardless of male or female, is unable to
perform, the company would just have to take other measures to
find other replacements that could do the job better.
What are your hopes for the future of Malaysian
women currently dabbling in ICT?
Currently, there are only a handful Malaysian women leaders in
IT companies, so I hope that in these few years, the number of
women IT role-models would be increased. For women interested
in technology, take charge and take action today to secure your
dream job or start your business of passion.
There is a saying that goes- œWomen
only want to solve problems and make everyone happy, and they
don't always stop to consider the political ramifications?
Is this true?
I don™t think that the perception is true. When a problem
occurs, various solutions can be taken. In order to choose the
appropriate solutions, some would consider the effect of the solution
to the various parties involved, and prefer to select the solution
that they themselves feel more secure with, such as less hurtful
to other people, especially their acquaintances. As more women
enter different fields, their actions are bound to change the
lifestyle, and the way their superiors make decisions. Leaders
therefore, would also have to revolutionise their leadership skills
and management abilities to provide a condusive and productive
environment for both genders.