Among the few women working in the technology sector in Cambodia is 29-year-old Sok Sikieng, who was recently named “Technovation Ambassador” for the country.
Technovation is a program of Iridescent, a non-profit that aims to raise interest in science, engineering and technology to younger generations around the world.
As an ambassador for the program, Sok Sikieng, who is also an entrepreneur and IT lecturer at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, will work to get more young women involved in technology and entrepreneurship.
“These are skill sets that all people need in their life,” she told VOA Khmer recently.
Sok Sikieng graduate high school in 2005, winning a scholarship to study at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. She earned a master’s of arts degree in information technology from Waseda University, in Japan, where she also co-founded an organization called Girls Leading in Development and Engineering, or GLIDE. She has won a number of awards for her work, including Google’s Anita Borg Award.
Among other projects, Sok Sikieng is currently training 50 students across 13 teams to help identify and solve community problems, via a mobile app.
Sok Sikieng estimates that in her classes, only about 10 percent of students are girls. She’d like to change that.
“There’s a concept that the technology field doesn’t really fit for women,” she said. “It makes it sound like women aren’t qualified for this field.”
That’s not true, she said. What the field needs are more women role models. That way, young women can find ways to relate to the field. More women in tech will mean more tech benefiting women, she said.
“The men alone can’t understand what women need,” she said. “I also want to prove that women should be involved in tech.”