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Playing our part: How tech companies are empowering women

Supporting women is not only beneficial for their immediate environment but also transcends into many aspects of the global economy

In fast-growing fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), women account for only 26% of job positions Women represent nearly half of the Alibaba Group’s workforce; female executives represent 34% Alibaba Cloud’s Tech for Change program creates new opportunities toward a gender-equal world

By Selina Yuan, President of International Business, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence

Supporting women is not only beneficial for their immediate environment but also transcends into many aspects of the global economy. Representation is increasing on a worldwide scale, with countries such as the UAE implementing several policies that help to empower women in business. I am proud to see the work being done to help women access opportunities in the field of technology. Nevertheless, challenges persist in fast-growing fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), where women account for only 26% of job positions, and cloud computing, in which female representation is a mere 12%, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020.

At Alibaba Cloud, we see an emerging role for technology companies to address the gender gap by increasing access to STEM education and careers for women as well as ensuring equality in the pursuit of senior positions in the industry. It is clear that more access will come through a change in mindset and greater encouragement for young girls to pursue STEM education and its related disciplines.

We are advocating for girls to be given the same encouragement as boys to enter STEM fields. Because we are a technology company, we see this as a fundamental social responsibility that is at the same time in our best interest. Greater gender diversity is good for business.

Achieving gender equality is about commitment and collaboration

The pursuit of equality for women is about removing systemic barriers and providing a pathway for women to self-determine and achieve their full potential. We are proud that women represent almost half of the Alibaba Group’s workforce, where female executives represent 34%.

However, we believe progress will be limited if we work alone – instead, it is necessary that we work together, creatively and with determination. This was the motivation behind Alibaba Cloud’s Tech for Change program, which was launched in 2019 to forge collaborations and partnerships around a wide range of causes, including encouraging businesses and the wider society to invest in and create new opportunities toward a gender-equal world.

One of the first Tech for Change partnerships was with iamtheCODE, the first African-led global movement to mobilize governments, businesses, and philanthropic organizations around the promotion of STEAMED (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Entrepreneurship, and Design) education. The overarching goal of the movement is to teach one million women and girls to code by 2030 by offering tailored online courses to aspiring female technologists, especially those from marginalized areas. The courses cover a wide range of topics, including cloud computing, data analytics, machine learning, and security, and come with certificates upon completion. Our collaboration with iamtheCODE reflects Alibaba Cloud’s long-held commitment to empowering women through technology.

Championing female technologists across the world

As a global leading cloud computing service provider, Alibaba Cloud has always believed in the importance of women’s empowerment and technology as a force for change to unlock greater opportunities for the development of women in the technology sector.

We are both grateful and proud of our group of outstanding female employees and leaders who take our organizations to greater heights; this includes world-renowned digital intelligence scientists and product architects who plan digital transformation in emerging markets. Our steadfast belief that ‘women hold up half the sky’ carries into female representation in our organization.  

Looking ahead, we view collaboration as a key. Social issues such as inequality and the lack of access to opportunities can’t be solved overnight by one individual; it takes systemic and society-wide awareness and action for long-term change. We hope to collaborate with society at large to groom next-generation technology leaders by encouraging businesses and society at large to invest, reflect and create new opportunities towards a gender-equal world.

We are eager to reiterate our commitment to providing access to cloud computing resources and AI technology to women around the world. Our vision is a future where women from all walks of life will have the chance to lead in and through the power of technology.