Faces of GOJEK · 15 Mar 2020

Yang Kaiting: on tackling gender disparity and creating safe spaces, all while finding a fulfilling career in tech

Meet the women that embody the Gojek spirit of empowerment. This March, as we celebrate IWD, we put the spotlight on those who are re-shaping the industries they are in, marching to the beat of their own drums, and/or simply redefining what it means to be a woman.

Two years ago, all it took to finally kick start Yang Kaiting’s switch from banking to technology was successfully generating a table on Microsoft Excel.

These days, the 30-year-old is actively making a mark on the tech industry, splitting her time between working as a software engineer in GovTech, and paving the way for future fellow #WomenInTech with local non-profit, CodingGirls.

Gojek team (GT): Tell us about your jump from banking to technology.

Kaiting (KT): I was involved in trade finance in my previous job, and I was there for 5 years. It was very routine, and I didn’t feel much sense of fulfilment. The most I ever got excited about was liaising with clients.

One day I generated a table on Excel. It sounds so simple when I say it, but it was my first step at automating a job. I created something that eased my workload, and I had so much fun doing it. Afterwards, I was introduced to coding and decided to dip my toes in it.

Long story short, I stopped working, got enrolled in NUS-ISS for a graduate diploma program, did an internship in GovTech, and now I work here full-time.

GT: What were some of your biggest challenges when you first made this career switch? 

KT: There were lots of factors involved, such as figuring out what the opportunity costs were. I knew I had to keep myself afloat through the 1-year-long course, and I had to be willing to start from the bottom of the ladder all over again. But if I delayed it any longer, I’d have more to lose.

Mentally, I had always been intimidated by computer-related stuff too. All my life I’d never given it a thought or considered to be part of it. 

GT: And you’re in GovTech now! What’s your job like?

KT: I’m an associate software engineer. I code a lot, work hand-in-hand with the UX designers, product managers, and users to gather feedback. Mainly, I build platforms and dashboards.

GT: On to CodingGirls! How did you get involved with the organization?

KT: CodingGirls was founded by Ann Luo in 2016. Back then she was also learning to code on her own, along with her friends. The group got bigger and evolved into CodingGirls as we know it today. I got to know about CodingGirls during a conference Ann set up in 2018, and I was amazed by how well it was planned. They had panel sessions with industry experts from big companies, workshops with Microsoft and Google, things like that. 

I found myself feeling right at home with the community. I think being surrounded by other women facing similar issues helps give each other the boost of confidence needed, especially when everyone around us are men. I thought I’d help contribute to the same community that’s had my back. Now I run operations and event planning in CodingGirls.

GT: Why do you think there’s a distinct lack of women in tech?

KT: Speaking from my own experience, I think women assume it’s a club just for boys, and that it’d be difficult to understand. Knowing you’ll be coming in as a young woman in such a male-dominated industry is understandably daunting. Many of the women who graduated NUS-ISS with me ended up in non-technical roles too. There are multiple factors for things like these – there’s much to overcome.

Things are changing, of course. I think we need constant reminders that tech isn’t just for guys, and I hope with the presence of organizations like CodingGirls, we overcome this stigma. 

CodingGirls’ upcoming projects include running an academy with She Loves DataTo stay updated with the organization, follow them on Facebook here.

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