You might know that La FrenchTech Singapore recently launched its “Female FrenchTech” initiative. Since then we did quite a bit of work, and we couldn’t think of a better day to shed some more light on this initiative and the driving force behind it: Amel Rigneau. We sat down with Amel for a good discussion on the challenges women face here in Singapore especially in Tech -and how this initiative tries to help.
Hi Amel, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you landed in Singapore?
Sure! I am a traveler who loves discovering new countries, cultures and people and I love to face new challenges. I’m also very eager to learn and I have always embraced all innovative subjects. That’s one of the reasons why I feel very lucky to have spent a few years in Hong Kong and now Singapore, certainly two of the most innovative cities in Asia!
The dynamism of the startup scene here in Singapore is amazing. I have the feeling you can test any idea and go abroad to scale.
How did you get involved in La FrenchTech and what is your role there?
Actually I’ve known La FrenchTech in Hong-Kong, as I was leading an Entrepreneur Club focused on early stage development. When I moved to Singapore, I met the core team here and felt inspired by their vision and enthusiasm, so I naturally decided to be part of the adventure.
La FrenchTech is an inclusive and open community. As a member of the steering committee I lead or support a number of projects: setting-up partnerships with local organisations, organizing events and launching initiatives such as “La FrenchTech for Good” and “Female FrenchTech”.
So why did you decide to launch “Female FrenchTech” here?
Simple observation: few women in our steering committee, few women in our internal / external panels, few women among our founders, few women among our investors and a just little more among startup employees… Overall there are very few women in the Tech industry here, and I don’t think it is because we lack talents! So I just needed to do something about it.
You’ve traveled a lot, how do see the role of women here in Singapore?
In Singapore I’ve been impressed by the number and variety of associations, initiatives, incubators, female business angels syndicates and platforms that have been created to support female talent. I stopped counting after 30 just in Singapore!
Honestly, I have been told more and more women have senior positions in VC structures, MNCs and among female founders…but from what I see in day-to-day business, it is not enough.
The stats are crystal-clear: The Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2018 shows at early stage entrepreneurial activity Singapore has showed a drop of Female Founders. As for MNC, 8% of corporate board members are women (average in Europe is 15-20%) according to McKinsey’s 2017 report. So we need to catch-up!
At The Female FrenchTech we believe the situation can change and we want to make it happen, together with other organisations.
So tell us more about this. What is your objective with the “Female FrenchTech” initiative?
Of course. Well our ambition is simple; we want to highlight, help and inspire the female talents across the region. We’re identifying talents, promoting them at internal and external events (speakers in panels, VC pitches,…), and showcasing their achievements through our network.
Very cool. So what’s in the works, and how can we follow the news?
The easiest is La FrenchTech Singapore website, our newsletter as well as our Facebook and Linkedin pages. If you’d like to be personally involved or want to chat, feel free to drop us a line on Femalefrenchtech at gmail dot com.
Currently we are preparing events and workshops around investment, with our “Dare to be a Female Business Angel” series. This subject is natural to us because we believe investment is an essential source of funding & support of startups which have a huge impact on economic growth. Women in this field could bring more diversity in terms of soft skills and investment choices.
Certainly! By the way, did you personally experience any form of discrimination?
I saw a lot of cases around me. For instance, around promotion and wage gap between men and women. In Singapore, the pay gap at the median wage was about 9% in 2017 according to Ministry of Manpower. The reasons are multiple : women never ask for a rise, lack of confidence on their own capabilities, low awareness about diversity benefice from the hierarchy…
It’s a really complex issue. What do you think is the best way to fight this?
The situation can change but it will take time. In the meantime, we should all take simple actions -men as well by the way!
- Apply a “dare to” mindset and not stay behind the curtain but front and center
- Be more confident in our abilities even when we are not a specialist
- We should all support other women and not be more demanding
- Educate our children, especially boys, to eradicate all kind of discrimination and respect others
I believe the change will come from women but not only. We have to integrate men in our reflexion and our actions.
For instance, I appreciate the initiative “Never without her” in France; which is endorsed by entrepreneurs, players from the digital world, the media,the education industry and politicians . All of whom are accustomed to taking part in debates and public events. But, they have now refused to do so if there are no women involved.
Amel, thank you ! We’ll keep in touch!