Women’s leadership took centre stage in the Philippines’ largest startup conference in November 2021, as key voices from across the sector, as well as corporate and government stakeholders, came together to discuss how to strengthen the pipeline of female techpreneurs.
Through four panel discussions, the Startup Pinay Conference on the final day of the Philippine Startup Week 2021 showcased 15 women leaders who are breaking boundaries in tech and innovation. The discourse emphasised how the strong visibility of women leaders lays the ground for gender equality in the sector.
“We see fearless focus in forward-looking women breaking the glass ceiling,” Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo said in her keynote message for the conference. “Let us reshape now the narratives, break conventional notions, challenge gender roles, and spread the message that true progress is not the privilege of the few, but a right to be enjoyed by all,” she added.
Panellists noted how women leaders in tech workplaces act as role models and inspire other women to pursue their ambition despite social norms that tend to see women better in support roles. But women leaders also have a role as catalysts for structural change by addressing gender inequality within their own workplaces.
“Do things that you can to change the system,” said Rebecca Kersch, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at remittance platform Tang App. She cited how their company offers paid paternity and maternity leave beyond what is required by law, by making it mandatory for new parents, whether woman or man, to take at least a month off from work.
Greater visibility of women leaders in tech also helps other women in the sector find a tribe or a supportive environment where they can thrive. But panellists highlighted the need to involve men in the discussion to make them aware of the challenges in and benefits of achieving gender equality in tech and to make them part of the change.
The Philippine Startup Week 2021 brought together thousands of founders, investors, accelerators, corporates, academia, media and government agencies on one virtual stage to foster collaboration and innovation across the growing Philippine startup community.
The five-day forum featured summits and community events covering a diverse range of topics, sectors and initiatives from across the Philippine startup ecosystem. The event included pitching competitions, learning sessions and investor programs, providing a platform for participants to explore synergies and connect with relevant stakeholders from across the country and beyond.
The event was led by the Department of Information and Communications Technology; the Department of Science and Technology; the Department of Trade and Industry; and QBO Innovation Hub, the Philippines’ first public-private partnership platform for startups.
QBO Innovation Hub actively promotes opportunities for women to lead in the startup community, including through the creation of the Startup Pinay campaign, which fosters a community of female-led tech startups through funding, mentorship, and exposure and aims to create a diverse, inclusive startup landscape in the Philippines.
The Startup Pinay campaign forms part of QBO Innovation Hub’s partnership with Investing in Women for its work on influencing gender norms. Focused on improving workplace gender equality and access to growth capital for women-owned and women-led enterprises in the country, QBO, through the support of Investing in Women, aims to encourage women to lead technology startups and create a strong profile of women startups in the Philippines.