China Underground > Magazine > China Magazine > Interview with Jill Tang, Entrepreneur & Community Builder

Interview with Jill Tang, Entrepreneur & Community Builder

Jill Tang is a serial entrepreneur, community builder, and business KOL.

Jill Tang is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Ladies Who Tech, a company working to challenge the status quo by encouraging more women to assist and discover their potential in STEM. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Latrobe University, Master of Applied Finance from Monash University and an MBA from Melbourne Business School. Jill Tang was the founder of CareerXFactor, the co-founder of the Brew Girl and Cosmic Ventures. She has delivered powerful presentations on topics such as women in tech, innovation, diversity & inclusion, and entrepreneurship. Notably, in June 2016, Jill was selected as the only female entrepreneur from Shanghai to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley addressed by President Obama. In the same year, she has been nominated as the finalist Young Australia China Alumni of the year. She is also a frequent speaker at technology summits around the world, key opinion leader and TEDx Speaker.

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What motivated you to co-found Ladies Who Tech? What is the main mission?

Life is either by choice or by chance. I joined Ladies Who Tech was by a chance. My co-Founder Charlene Liu went to silicon valley for a 1,000 women in STEM convention and got inspired. After running a couple of events focusing on women in tech, she invited me to build Ladies Who Tech together. I was born and grew up in China as part of one child generation, therefore, I personally didn’t come across gender inequality because of my gender. However, passion is really influenced by working with a group of Ladies Who Tech volunteers and the life-changing experience we are making to our community. They helped me to see the challenges and how much we can do to change the situation. No matter you have a STEM background or not, everyone has a role to play to make a world a more balanced place. The main mission is to close the gender gap within the STEM industry in China and Asia by promoting gender diversity and inclusion and encouraging more girls and women to study and work in STEM. We want to remove the gender bias and believe in “ Tech has no gender”.

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What are some of the biggest challenges for women, who want to work and venture into the world of technology face today in China?

 

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1) lack of role models: there are still not enough women in STEM role models to help both men and women see the possibilities and benefits of having gender diversity and inclusion in STEM.
2) overall stereotype and unconscious bias.
3) As I mentioned earlier, China actually has lots of girls to study in STEM, the problem is they are not taking STEM jobs after graduation or the workplace is not friendly when they are moving into a different stage of life.
4) Women and men don’t realize there are gender pay gap or a reason why there is a need to have an independent category to promote gender diversity.

Do women working in the Tech sector run into professional discrimination in the workplace, such as unfair competition, colleagues’ misconceptions? Do you think women are asked for more commitment than men?

I think it’s a universal challenge that is happening everywhere. Unfair competition as in non-women-friendly business social occasions, stereotype and unconscious bias, etc. And Women tend to be more easily got burn out because they take too many roles and tasks at both work and family.

Ladies Who Tech was started by Charlene Liu and Jill Tang. Both aim to raise awareness of the lack of women in the STEM industries and help companies have more diversity. The number of women scientists is indeed on the rise today, but their role is often underestimated in reality. Efforts to promote women and girls in science are required to dismantling gender stereotypes. Ladies Who Tech aims to be a platform for women entrepreneurs in the STEM world, and tries to facilitate connections between technological founders, freelancers, partners, and potential clients. Ladies Who Tech is fighting for breaking the stereotype and highlights the valuable role of women against prejudice in STEM: gender shouldn’t be a barrier. Ladies Who Tech, aims to narrow the gender gap and promote inclusion in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, where women have traditionally been under-represented. Since its creation, Ladies Who Tech community now brings together more than 30,000 people in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Wuhan, Xi’an, Hong Kong, and Taipei, as well as in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

How much family prejudice impacts and interferes with professional development for women to discover their potential?

I would say pretty significant. The stereotype or unconscious bias on gender differences will discourage women to take STEM majors or jobs. Not only family but also at elementary or even earlier education from school. Probably textbooks need to be updated in order to remove gender bias words.

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Women in the field of STEM industries are in the minority. Technology is considered a male-dominated land. Does the prejudice start from schools creating a lack of opportunities? Are girls equally encouraged?

As I mentioned above, yes. it’s not only in China but other countries such as in Southeast Asia. There are not enough STEM teachers who are women to influence kids at a young age. Textbooks probably are also gender-biased or activities as girls should play barbie doll but boys play lego or video games. Girls are definitely NOT equally encouraged as boys yet.

Tech has no gender and for this reason, Jill Tang and Charlene Liu, co-founders of Ladies Who Tech, are working to encourage more women to discover their potential in the world of STEM.

Women think very differently and in their unique way. Does women’s public support each other or because they are in a male-dominated space they do it privately? How important is it for women to lift each other up?

It is very important to have women role models to help other women to see the possibilities. So they should do it publicly for sure. At Ladies Who Tech, we always seek for Women STEM role models to share what they build and create to inspire both women and men. Not only it’s important to have women lift each other and we should involve more men to do that too. Often they do not see the challenges women are facing because of the gender difference. If we can include them and help them to understand the challenges women are facing, they can better help, sponsor and mentor women at the workplace. There are some of the initiatives at Ladies Who Tech was driven by our allies, men! We really appreciate all of their efforts and being our allies to drive gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace and startup world.

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What are some of the best initiatives to help improvements in go gender diversity at companies in China?

1) parenting policy to have both men and women to take parental leave as compulsory policy.
2) having business unit leaders to rotate and take responsibilities to have a closer look at each layer of gender equality such as employee ratio, pay gap. Especially to have female leaders to be part of it.
3) mentoring program and reverse mentoring program.
4) unconscious bias and stereotype workshops.
5) Diversity and Inclusion activities.

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What has been achieved and what significant challenges still to be done? What steps should be taken to attract more women to tech and rectify the imbalance?

We have grown from 0 to more than 30,000+ community here in Greater China with chapters in 8 major cities including Singapore. we held two yearly conventions with over 1,000 women and men participating. We worked with over 30 large corporates in 2.5 years time for Diversity and Inclusion initiatives our next step is to launch Ladies Who Tech mini-programs (like a mini-app) in order to place women in STEM talents, STEM education and promote gender diversity and inclusion through the online community.

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Can you share with us any meaningful story that has inspired you over the years?

A first-year university student heard from Ladies Who Tech, she decided to choose data science as her major at uni even though her mother, who is an engineer discouraged her NOT to choose STEM since mother thinks it’s a hard job for a girl.
-A successful career change for a girl who was in a marketing job and transit to big data entrepreneur after joining Ladies Who Tech event
-A group of ladies who tech women met through our platform and now started a new startup initiative in IoT and Saas Platform
-Inspired project managers to learn coding and big data.

Her mission is to close the status quo by promoting gender diversity and inclusion in STEM industries in China.

What advice would you give to women considering a career in technology? Why is it important that more women go into tech? What do you think is the best part for women in the field of STEM?

Women do not need to choose a career in technology. They should choose what they are passionate about. However, it’s important to have some understanding of basic digital transformation knowledge since that’s the trend for all of the companies which are taking digital transformation. Everyone needs digital skills. But if they are interested in a technology career, either they take a longer route as in studying STEM majors but also can take some short courses since coding as an example, you probably can self-taught or learn in short courses instead of a university degree. We need more women to join tech to have a more balanced talent pool, skill sets and knowledge for better product design and services, it’s good for innovation and sustainability. The world will become a better place when it’s more balanced especially now it’s in the industry 4.0 era. We all need to contribute and make it happen. it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

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Photos cortesy of Jill Tang and Ladies Who Tech
A special thanks to Charlene Liu

 


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