Microsoft, along with 13 companies across nine Asia Pacific countries, has launched Code; Without Barriers.
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. It aims to help close the gender gap in the region's fast-growing cloud, AI and digital technology sectors.
"The balance between consumption and creation is changing," says Microsoft Asia Pacific president, Andrea Della Mattea.
"We see developers increasingly influencing every business process and function. This 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."
Partners in the program include Accenture, AvePoint, Government Big Data Institute, HCL Technologies, Just Analytics, MetLife, NTT Ltd, PALO IT, Petroliam Nasional Berhad, Simbiotik Technologies, Thoughtworks, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, and Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia.
These organisations 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 says it will provide training 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 organisations and offer career opportunities to female creators and developers.
"We identified an urgent need in our region to increase the diversity of technical talent, as only 26% of professionals in data and AI are women. This drops to 12% for professionals in cloud computing," says Della Mattea.
"For this to change, and for APAC markets to have a truly inclusive national digital agenda, it starts with breaking barriers and empowering developer diversity in our organisations and industries. It's our responsibility as leaders of this community to shape what comes next; to show what's possible when our digital worlds reflect the diversity of the society we live in."
"Gender-diverse teams are smarter and more productive," says PhD and IDC lead analyst, DevOps and digital innovation in Asia/Pacific, Gina Smith.
"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 overall. Programs like Microsoft's Code; Without Barriers go a long way toward bridging that critical gap."