Microsoft and 13 companies across nine Asia Pacific countries today launched Code; Without Barriers to help close the gender gap in the region’s fast-growing cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital technology sectors.
The program provides a platform to enable female developers, coders, and other technical talent to contribute towards inclusive economic growth, encourage innovation and better reflect the societal makeup of their region.
“The balance between consumption and creation is changing. We see developers increasingly influencing every business process and function. Which is why Code; Without Barriers was created. We identified an urgent need to increase the diversity of cloud, AI and technical talent in APAC, so every country can achieve their national digital agendas and have truly inclusive economic growth,” said Andrea Della Mattea, President for Microsoft in Asia Pacific.
The partners in the program include Accenture, AvePoint, Government Big Data Institute (GBDi), HCL Technologies, Just Analytics, MetLife, NTT Ltd, PALO IT, Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS), Simbiotik Technologies, Thoughtworks, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK), and Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM).
These organizations operate in the areas of education, energy, financial services, public sector and technology in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Microsoft will provide skilling and certification in cloud and AI to increase the technical talent pools in the countries. Each of the 13 companies is committed to improving diversity within their organizations and offers career opportunities to female creators and developers. Equally, through a series of engagements, from career fairs to hackathons to mentorship and support from business leaders, Code; Without Barriers will nurture and develop female entrepreneurs in APAC.
“The World Economic Forum and LinkedIn report that female workers make up an estimated 26% of workers in Data and AI roles, 15% of workers in Engineering roles and 12% of workers in Cloud Computing roles. With more women in Sri Lanka pursuing technology education, we believe more work can be done to make the country’s workforce reflect its diverse society. Through initiatives like ‘Code; Without Barriers’, we hope to skill women and women with disabilities, raise employability and learning opportunities, and bridge the gender parity gap in our region,” said Sook Hoon Cheah, General Manager, Microsoft SEA New Markets.
Code; Without Barriers has piloted 18 Women in AI certification programs across eight APAC markets, training more than 480 women, and certifying 203 developers. Microsoft also hosted cloud skills challenges for more than 7,617 developers.
“Gender-diverse teams are smarter and more productive,” said Gina Smith, PhD, IDC’s lead analyst for DevOps and digital innovation in the Asia/Pacific region. “Hiring women in technology roles adds far more than a fresh perspective. Recent studies quantifiably demonstrate that gender-diverse enterprises demonstrably more innovation and higher returns than the mean overall. Programs like Microsoft’s Code; Without Barriers go a long way toward bridging that critical gap.”
“It is an established fact that having more women in the tech industry benefits companies and societies. But creating the conditions for a more diverse workforce is a complex challenge – no single organization can do this alone. We have a shared responsibility to simultaneously remove barriers and uplift women, and I’m thrilled to see companies and organizations collaborate through Code; Without Barriers,” said Leanne Robers, Co-founder and Co-CEO, She Loves Tech.
“We can’t do this in isolation and are thankful that organizations across industry sectors have joined us in APAC,” shared Annie Mathew, Director, Developer Relations and Program Lead for Code; Without Barriers at Microsoft in APAC.
Sustaining diversity by advocating for responsible AI
Microsoft’s Code; Without Barriers team is taking this further, with an upcoming community playbook that tackles how to handle bias and how to sustain diversity in emerging tech.
“Communities look to Microsoft to address and share the best practices in Responsible AI, so that they can build in diversity, reduce bias, and ensure transparency in the work that they do. We are empowering a new generation of women in technology through Code; Without Barriers,” concluded Ms Mathew.