QBO Innovation Hub Advances Gender Parity With Its Startup Pinay Program

MANILA, Philippines—In the Philippines, economic participation, opportunity, educational attainment, and survival have all contributed to significant development in gender equality. Women’s efforts, from women’s suffrage to the Magna Carta of Women, made this advancement possible—but there is still a lot of work to be done. 

While a report by the World Economic Forum showed that the Philippines ranked 17 out of 156 countries in closing the gender gap, less than half of the labor force are women. A World Bank report indicated that only 39.33% of Filipino women were part of the labor force. In order to reduce the gender gap, more women need to not only join the formal labor force but also be fairly represented in all sectors of various industries.

The technology industry remains to be male-dominated in the Philippines. Despite this, women have still been carving their own paths and striving to make their mark in the field. Female founders have been challenging the notion that women cannot build successful or lasting careers in technology. 

Bela Gupta. Image courtesy of QBO Innovation Hub

“Since the launch of Startup Pinay, numerous podcasts, community events, and social media engagements have been released to accelerate the careers of women in the technology sector. For two years, QBO Innovation Hub has extended long-term support to young Filipinas in the growing tech startup space” said Katrina Rausa Chan, Executive Director of QBO Innovation Hub.

Strengthening visibility of women leaders in the technology sector

Women founders and leaders are making their mark in the tech space. Some of them have decided to take full control of their career by taking up entrepreneurship and starting their own company. However, underrepresentation of Filipino women in the tech sector is still prevalent, thus deeply affecting the opportunities available.

Through the Startup Pinay platform, QBO Innovation Hub has decided to shift the perception of women in tech by starting a conversation with women leaders and startup founders. This has increased the visibility of women leaders by giving them the platform to share their stories. 

Jj Erpaiboon. Image courtesy of QBO Innovation Hub

“Empowering women in a notoriously male-dominated field by giving them a platform to speak on and share their expertise would likely resonate with women aspiring for careers in tech,” said Chan. “Moreover, extending this conversation to men who can voice their support and act as allies of this movement would go a long way towards achieving gender equity.”

Increasing networking opportunities to gain access to resources

Women in the tech space often have difficulty progressing up the corporate ladder due to a number of reasons—be it insufficient training resources or the lack of women representation in the field. According to the International Labour Organization, Filipino women are 140% more likely to lose their job due to automation than men. Despite the number of roles women carry in society, there is still a lack of consideration given to women especially in the tech space. The technology sector needs to understand the value women can bring to the space and how a lack of opportunities creates barriers for these women in reaching their full potential.

Through the Startup Pinay initiative, QBO Innovation Hub has connected women startup founders with programs, organizations, and resources across the country that would enable them to take hold of their own careers in the tech space. For women entrepreneurs who are seeking to launch and scale their startups, QBO Innovation Hub offers startup accelerator programs such as the J.P. Morgan Incubation Program through their partnership with various organizations. Earlier this year, Startup Pinay held a bootcamp for women-led startups to pitch their ventures and gain validation for their ideas. To kickstart their ventures, women need a combination of resources such as investors, mentors, innovators or enablers depending on their idea. 

“Helping women founders gain traction for their ideas early on would make up for all the missed opportunities for women everywhere to connect and work with others, who share in the same vision of creating a better community for all,” said Katrina Chan. 

Building a community of women leaders and founders 

Women’s underrepresentation in the tech space has affected the industry’s ability to innovate fully and create a diverse community. Many women are being left out and further discouraged to pursue a career in technology due to the lack of support presented to their gender group. Moreover, engaging with other women who are in similar struggles has proved to be difficult as well. Achieving gender equity requires a transformative movement that involves a huge community of progressive minds for a wider reach. 

Stephanie Kubota. Image courtesy of QBO Innovation Hub

As part of its earlier initiatives under Startup Pinay, QBO Innovation Hub has collaborated with community event organizers, key opinion leaders, and ambassadors to get them to speak up about women breaking barriers in technology in their own communities. Moreover, the organization sought out partnerships with other women leaders or founders who are seeking a platform to showcase their ideas and stories. The initiatives, hosted on various social media platforms, have furthered Startup Pinay’s mission to help empower women in tech.

Navigating the future of the Philippine startup ecosystem

“Women are a critical force for the evolving Philippine startup ecosystem. Their ideas need to be challenged, to the same extent as men, if the country is to move forward and dissent ideas for proper decision-making,” said Chan. 

The Startup Pinay project of QBO Innovation Hub keeps pushing against gender norms by supporting women, particularly with careers in technology. Through its startup accelerator programs and success stories, the Startup Pinay community has given many women, including young people, the chance to join. The lack of female representation hinders the innovation and creativity that the tech sector needs. Startup Pinay has opened up this conversation for both women and men so that gender equity may come in the near future.