Foundation Projects

SWITCH SEA: Fostering women’s technical leadership in the Internet industry in Southeast Asia

APNIC Foundation

The SWITCH-SEA (Supporting Women ITechnical and ResearCH roles in South East Asia) project supported the career development of women and LGBTQI+ individuals in select economies throughout South-East Asia. Each economy has a National Coordinator who manages the project in that area.

The project began in 2020 and covered four economies in South East Asia: Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines and Viet Nam. In mid to late 2022 the SWITCH SEA aspect of the project finished, but the project is continuing: It has expanded to additional economies (Laos and Timor Leste) and become the Switch! project.

The project was a gender-responsive and inclusive approach that supports women and LGBTQI+ engineers with the knowledge and skills to advance their careers in the Internet industry. The strategy combined education, training and mentoring to increase diversity, foster leadership and increased awareness at a national and regional about their valuable technical contributions. 

  • 4 economies covered: Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines and Viet Nam.
  • 74 personalized training plans for women and LGBTQI+ technical staff supported
  • 380 courses enrolled
  • 236 certifications from training providers issued
  • 53 certificates of achievement
  • 297 mentoring sessions
  • 18 Human Resource engagements conducted
  • 428 professional engagements reported

The project is based on a simple, fundamental idea: The way to help increase the representation of women and LGBTQI+ people working in technical roles is to listen to what kind of support they need in their careers, and help them in achieving what they need. Participants are put in control of their own careers, empowered to learn and make decisions, and encouraged to share what they learn among other participants.

How is this achieved?

The SWITCH projects don’t just provide technical training, though this is a large part of what they offer.

Each participant gets involved in developing a learning plan that is unique to them. Once they have identified the skills they need – and these may not be purely technical skills, it may also be management or coaching – they are matched with appropriate learning providers and their progress is tracked via comprehensive online tools. There are regular check ins with National Coordinators, and when they encounter stumbling blocks (and the global pandemic understandably posed challenges for participants), they receive either patience, or if they want it, advice on how to proceed. Participants also receive access to mentors in their specific area of expertise, as well as broader career advice and coaching.

Finally, there are also avenues for them to take their career to the next step, with encouragement and assistance when participating in conferences and other events.

For funding information, see the relevant annual reports.