Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling blazes trail for next-gen female tech leaders

SINGAPORE (AFP) – As co-founder of multibillion-dollar ride-hailing and food delivery firm Grab, Ms Tan Hooi Ling is already smashing stereotypes in tech, but she is also trying to blaze a trail for the next generation of female entrepreneurs in the industry.

This month, the company announced it will raise the proportion of women in leadership positions to 40 per cent by 2030 – up from 34 per cent now – and is committed to ensuring equal pay.

The key weapon in her arsenal for gender equality? Data.

“Data helps keep us honest,” the 38-year-old tells AFP.

“Right now, we have monthly and quarterly reports that help us look at how many female ‘Grabbers’ we have in different teams to ensure there is no unintentional bias and whether our pay parity is equal.”

Globally, tech firms suffer from a serious gender imbalance, with a study from consultancy Accenture and non-governmental organisation Girls Who Code showing the proportion of women working in the sector is now smaller than in 1984.

While male tech executives such as Meta’s Mr Mark Zuckerberg and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma are well known, top female tech leaders remain more lower profile.

Ms Tan co-founded Singapore-headquartered Grab, a household name in South-east Asia, in 2012 and now oversees hundreds of engineers.

She hopes to be a catalyst for change in the male-dominated sector.

She insists she did not face discrimination as she built up her company but recognises others have.

“That’s the role I’m hoping to play – to help create more of these environments where I was fortunate enough to grow up in,” she adds.

Battling sexism and inequality


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