Typefi is incredibly proud to announce that Chathini Uduwana, Typefi VP People and Country Head for Sri Lanka, was recently appointed as the Sri Lanka Chapter Ambassador for Women in Tech.
Women in Tech is a leading global organisation working for inclusion, diversity and equity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The organisation’s primary goal is to empower 5 million women and girls in STEM by 2030 through initiatives in four key areas: Business, Education, Advocacy, and Digital Inclusion.
Women in Tech has chapters in 48 countries and more than 200,000 members. With the launch of this new chapter, Sri Lanka joins a global movement working to achieve these goals—and Chathini and the directors of the chapter have an ambitious plan to achieve them.
Women in Tech Sri Lanka Chapter launch
The Sri Lanka Chapter of Women in Tech was officially launched on 21 November 2023 during a special event in Colombo. The event brought together more than 50 industry experts, professionals, and representatives from the academic community.
The event included presentations and panels addressing some of the most important issues facing women in STEM fields. Panellists discussed the current role of women in the industry, awareness of STEM careers, and the reasons why women don’t enter STEM fields.
As part of the event, Chathini also gave a speech discussing the specific challenges facing women in Sri Lanka and her commitment to addressing them.
‘’My goal with Women in Tech Sri Lanka is not just to bridge the gender gap, but also to build a community that fosters mentorship, learning, and collaboration. Together, we will provide resources, guidance, and opportunities to empower women, from learners to leaders, at every stage of their STEM journey.’’
STEM fields in Sri Lanka
Around the world, the gender gap in the IT industry has widened over the last 40 years—on average, there is just one woman for every five people working in the industry today. Sri Lanka has a thriving IT industry, and it has largely followed this trend.
A 2017 report from the University Grants Commission found that women accounted for nearly half (49%) of undergraduate enrollments in STEM subjects at state universities. However, only about a third (34%) of STEM jobs in Sri Lanka are held by women, according to a 2023 study by the Institute of Policy Studies.
A 2023 UN report also found that women are underrepresented in maths, engineering and technology careers. The report cites gender stereotypes—including beliefs that men are family heads, primary breadwinners, and more suited to certain fields—as the primary causes.
Chathini discussed these reports in her speech and made clear that while some progress has been made recently to address the gender gap in STEM fields, more must still be done.
Closing the gender gap in Sri Lanka
As the Chapter Ambassador for Women in Tech Sri Lanka, Chathini has a robust plan to close the gender gap in 2024 and beyond—but it will require a strong commitment from the local community and academic institutions.
Chathini outlined her plans during her speech at the Chapter Launch event. The plans include several educational programs aimed at helping women enter STEM fields and grow their careers.
The “Tech-Ed” program will give advanced level students the opportunity to learn more about the variety of educational and professional opportunities in the IT field.
The “Start Your Start-Up” program is a mentoring program designed to empower female entrepreneurs in STEM fields by connecting them with established experts in these fields.
“Our mission with ‘Start Your Start-Up’ is to promote a supportive ecosystem, enabling women to leverage the experience, knowledge and networks critical to their entrepreneurial journey.”
Additionally, the “From Students to Leaders” program is aimed at empowering final-year female students in STEM fields by providing an introduction to the variety of employment opportunities available.
The path forward for Sri Lankan women in STEM
These holistic initiatives are designed to equip participants with the inspiration, knowledge, skills, and motivation necessary for success in STEM careers.
“In Sri Lanka, it is rare to find women who can code and are in senior positions,” Chathini said. “But I am proud that ‘women in tech’ is something that Typefi has. Of our five engineering teams, two are female-led. They are a small group in a big industry, challenging the cycle of ‘normal’ life for Sri Lankan women.”
“As Chapter Ambassador, I hope to help more women overcome stereotypes so they can transform both the tech industry and their own lives.”