Switch!: Fostering women’s technical participation in the Internet industry in South East Asia
In May 2020, the APNIC Foundation received funding from the Government of Australia to improve the knowledge, skills and confidence of women and LGBTQI+ 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 LGBTQI+ 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.
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.
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.
This is a multi-year activity. For budget information, see the relevant annual reports.