Foundation Projects

Switch!: Fostering women’s technical participation in the Internet industry in South East Asia

APNIC Foundation

There is still a big disparity in the workforce between men employed in technical roles vs women and gender diverse professionals. While there are many initiatives that support young women to study STEM careers and others focusing on developing leadership skills in technical companies to have more women in leadership positions, the APNIC Foundation identified scenarios where:
1) Women and gender diverse people, already employed in technical roles in the industry, had to limit their professional development to opportunities that respond to the needs of their employers, instead of their personal development, availability and capacity.
2) Once leadership development pathways are available, many of these highly skilled technical professionals end up leaving technical roles again in the hands of men, as gender considerations are not considered as part of succession planning/recruitment.

The APNIC Foundation established the Switch! Project to fill those gaps and respond to the individual needs of highly motivated women and gender diverse people in the industry so that they can positively and proactively contribute to the development of the industry, as they define their own goals and receive tailored support to achieve them.


In May 2020, the APNIC Foundation received funding from the Government of Australia to improve the knowledge, skills and confidence of women and gender diverse technical staff working on Internet network management and operations in Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. This project, Supporting Women in Technical and Research roles in South East Asia (SWITCH SEA), wrapped up in late 2021 and early 2022.

In 2022, the project was relaunched under a new funder, the Asia Pacific Internet Development Trust, and a new name, Switch! Further, the project was expanded to include Lao PDR and Timor Leste. The number of participants more than doubled from 74 before the relaunch to 161 under Switch!

Participants engage in a variety of training activities in programs tailored to each participant’s professional development plan. The project seeks to improve the technical knowledge, skills and confidence of women and gender diverse technical staff working on Internet network operations and security, and to help them acquire and validate professional certifications in network operations and security with which to advance their careers.

You can discover activities in each economy below:

Participants work closely with a national coordinator assigned to each economy. This collaboration allows participants to:

  • Improve their research, management and public speaking capabilities;
  • Share their technical knowledge, operational expertise and advice with the technical community at events and publications for local, regional and international participants; and
  • Join in protecting an open, free and secure Internet in their areas.
A group of Switch! participants and national coordinators at a conference.
Switch! National Coordinators (front row, back row centre) and participants at the APNIC 54 conference in Singapore in 2022.

National coordinators organized Switch! national events held in each of the six economies. At these events, participants come together, network, and share their stories of professional and personal development.

In the first four months of implementation to December 2022, 94% of participants reported greater confidence in their ability to understand the technical subjects they have chosen for their professional development plans. Project participants quickly became better prepared to share their knowledge and technical expertise in community discussions within and beyond Switch! This was evidenced by their
networking and visibility activities, with 88% of participants agreeing or strongly agreeing that their communication skills had improved. Eight participants in either SWITCH SEA or Switch! received funding to attend the APNIC 54 conference in Singapore in September. One highlight was that a team of Switch! participants took runner-up place in the Women Thailand Cyber Top Talent competition.

A group of Switch! participants hold a novelty cheque in front of a Women Thailand Cyber Top Talent banner.
The Switch! team that was runner-up in the Women Thailand Cyber Top Talent 2022 competition, together with their National Coordinator (right) and staff from the competition (second from left).
A group of Switch! participants in front of a green Foundation banner.
Participants at the Timor Leste 2022 national event.
A group of Switch! participants outside a building with columns.
Participants and Foundation staff at the Viet Nam 2022 national event.
A group of Switch! participants stand together between tables in front of a projected screen.
Participants at the Cambodian 2022 national event.
A group of Switch! participants are seen bowling.
Thai participants and National Coordinator during team building activities at the 2022 national event.
A group of Switch! participants stand outside in front of a fountain and archway.
Participants at the Lao PDR 2022 national event.
A group of Switch! participants during the Philippines national event.
Participants at the Switch! Philippines 2022 national event.

This is a multi-year activity. For budget information, see the relevant annual reports.