Now or Never
Tatler Malaysia|September 2021
Purnima Wijendra, co-founder and technical director at TechSprint Academy, knows the score—now more than ever, it’s vital that we challenge the status quo if we’re ever to make way for Malaysian women
Koyyi Chin
“The very first challenge we’ve had to tackle was getting women to realise that coding, or even joining the tech industry itself, was a viable career option they could take for themselves,” says Purnima Wijendra, the co-founder and technical director of TechSprint Academy, Malaysia’s very first all-women coding school. “Because in Malaysia, the concept of women participating in supposedly male-dominated industries is still foreign to most of us—not just for those residing in rural areas, but for those in urban ones as well.”

Now, the issue of gender disparity in the workforce is an age-old one. According to the International Labour Organisation’s statistics on the gender gap in labour force participation rates (LFPR), the global LFPR is 75.2 per cent for men and women 48.7 per cent. In Malaysia, according to the Department of Statistics’s key assessments of the nation’s labour force in December 2020, the LFPR for men was at 80.8 per cent, whereas for women, it was 55.1 per cent. And though the latter’s percentage has seen a positive departure from its initial 44.5 per cent in 1982, that gap has yet to make a significant leap even after 38 years.

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