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Reprogramming gender ratios in Malaysia's IT

By Ellen Chen | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-01 10:11

More of the country's women are working in computer science. Ellen Chen reports.

When Candice Teoh took computer science at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia, nearly 20 years ago, she was one of three female students in her class. Most other women, the 43-year-old recalls, preferred business computing.

Today, Teoh is seeing an increasing number of women working alongside her as software engineers at Epicor Software Malaysia.

Systemically designing and writing code is a tedious and mundane job - one she adores.

Reprogramming gender ratios in Malaysia's IT

"It's challenging when converting logic into code, as it demands optimization and accuracy to work out the levels of complications, but I love the job," she says.

"The work requires intensive focus, and I understand that it may not be suitable for many people - particularly men. Many of my peers think there isn't much future for software engineers, so they move on to consulting work. But I like working through one problem after the next."

More Malaysian women are taking bigger roles in previously male-dominated industries. British recruitment specialists Hays reports that from July 2011 to June 2012, 50 percent of the software developers they hired were women. The figure is the same for 2012 to 2013.

This doesn't surprise Woon Tai Hai, chairman of the National Information and Communications Technology Association of Malaysia (PIKOM), which represents 1,400 companies.

"We can see this trend growing, as over 65 percent of students enrolled in tertiary education today are women," he says. "The definition of technology has evolved and has become more encompassing."

Woon says ICT careers are not solely about programming but also entail system support, application design and development, network, database and testing.

Much of the work can be done from home.

"The advent of technology today also allows women to work from anywhere, and they would know how to fully utilize the benefits of technology," Woon says.

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