01:47 (GMT +7) - Wednesday 20/03/2019

Op-Eds

Women self-reliant

Released at: 16:35, 07/03/2019

Women self-reliant

Photo: Viet Tuan

It is largely up to women themselves to secure leadership roles as Vietnam moves into the digital age.

by Ms. Pham Chi Lan / Independent Economic Researcher

Vietnamese women have long promoted their leadership roles during the country’s history, in war and then peacetime and more recently in the age of innovation. Free enterprise has developed significantly in the country, with people free to conduct business in an ever-expanding range of fields. Women participate actively and many have high profiles.

The leadership role of Vietnamese women, from household businesses to large enterprises, is superior to other countries in the region. They have worked hard to meet the demands of maintaining their position. In the digital economy, Vietnamese women must make an even greater effort to retain their leadership.

Vietnamese women have seen a number of achievements over the years, so studying the growth of women in Vietnam’s digital economy is not at all difficult. Those who have succeeded in the past also have the ability to learn more to reach higher in the future. Young women, who are better trained and can absorb information technology (IT) sooner, are more dynamic in grasping the creative requirements of the digital economy.

Tackling obstacles

The digital economy requires continuous creativity, research, study, acquisition of new knowledge, and application of new technologies and techniques in different fields. Women must therefore express their creativity and knowledge in their field of endeavor along with the requirements of the digital economy for the greatest efficiency. They must also invest in equipment and human resources and expand their networks of partners and relationships, including consumers, other enterprises, the government, and society in general.

Women leaders also possess sensitivity in relationships and activities. They are not only interested in professional aspects related to revenue or profit but also social aspects such as the environment. This creates advantages when applying new elements of the digital economy into their field, helping them to gain a broader view and seek and utilize advantages as well as suitable applications for their enterprise and business field.

Some women have not been properly trained, however, especially in accessing IT, so entering the digital economy may be problematic. For example, some women secured leadership roles due to their communication and soft skills but lack skills in IT.

Women’s ability to study math and technology is often not the equal of men. Meanwhile, the digital economy requires a sound application of IT, especially in fields that require artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies. The most important thing for women therefore is to improve their ability to use and apply IT in their business activities. In small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), I have observed that they have only applied IT within a relatively narrow range, using simple methods such as mail exchange tools, searching, advertising, and communications with customers, while many higher IT applications have not been applied to any great extent.

In my opinion, leaders must guide the creativity of their business to meet the requirements of the digital economy. In particular, AI is being widely used and has a major impact on life and activities in different fields. Women leaders must therefore understand the impact of AI on their businesses and other new factors that can help their business grow. This will help women leaders forecast their business performance five or ten years into the future, from which they can adopt appropriate plans and make adjustments.

Competition does not depend on gender. Male leaders are subjective, so it is easier for them to fail than for female leaders, who have a lower starting point in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) disciplines but know how to learn and use talented people, as the digital economy requires an ability to recognize and access new knowledge and take advantage of new factors.

Finally, in terms of emotions, women make more sensitive observations, which can assist them in using their human resources and taking advantage of opportunities presented by partners and customers.

Support from government

The government has support policies for women doing business but these are negligible. Women reaching leadership roles at enterprises is primarily due to their own effort, while the views of Vietnamese society in general towards women is becoming increasingly open.

The fact that women are leaders at enterprises often does not clearly express the role of and support from government policies. For example, access to land or credit is supposed to be equal for both men and women. Leaders, regardless of gender, must learn and work hard.

In my opinion, few leadership roles in the public sector are held by women, so the government needs to consider this in order to secure gender equality in policy-making decisions.

“Women’s ability to study math and technology is often not the equal of men. Meanwhile, the digital economy requires a sound application of IT, especially in fields that require artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies. The most important thing for women therefore is to improve their ability to use and apply IT in their business activities.” 

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