Visible role models can help inspire more women leaders

L-R, from top: GCash president and CEO Martha Sazon, DealStreetAsia managing editor Michelle Teo, CXA Group founder and CEO Rosaline Chow Koo; Her Capital Angel investor/founder Gail Wong, TheAsianParent Group CEO and founder Roshni Mahtani

Visible role models can help inspire more women leaders


Potential women leaders have been limited because of outdated gender norms and lack of mentoring and support. The visibility of successful female role models for girls and women is vital, particularly in fields that have long been dominated by men, like finance and technology. 


In the webinar entitled, “Is VC Funding for Women Founders Getting Any Better?” organized by DealStreetAsia, a Singapore-based financial news website, women leaders shared their insights on the gender disparity in venture capital (VC) funding and how women are capable of building their startups and becoming a leader. Among the panelists was GCash president and CEO Martha Sazon who shared the importance of visual role modeling in order to address the issue of a lack of female leaders.


“Leading by example is important. Women founders need to be shown more to people,” said Sazon.


Although finance and technology companies are mainly dominated by men and making it in these industries may seem intimidating to women, Sazon helped millions of Filipinos during the pandemic through the top fintech company, GCash. The Philippines’ leading mobile wallet company currently has 2.5 million merchants and a 46 million subscriber base, which is equivalent to more than 40 percent of the population having a GCash account. When Sazon was just starting her career at Globe, the top telecommunications company in the Philippines, she said it was initially dominated by men but now, women leaders have also emerged in the company. 


“We're opening up not just the tech industry but the fintech industry as well to women. Fintech is a good industry for women to thrive because women are naturally good decision makers and problem fixers,” said Sazon. “We have to create more ‘I want to be like her moments.’ Someone just has to pave the way for it,” she added. 


In order to have more women leaders, Sazon said that mentoring should start at a young age. She said it’s vital to guide women in high school about the right college course to take, the job that’s a good fit for them, and the right skill set in starting a business. “Young girls should be given more visual cues. As we provide them these visual cues and mentoring, we should be there to continuously guide them,” she said. 


She added, “We need to be shown to more people so we get to a point that we are ‘ordinary,’ that it becomes a normal thing for women to become successful with their decisions.”


Sazon said that encouraging more women to lead could be as easy as creating chat groups for women or building an organization to support them. She also shared that she’s fortunate to have had great mentors on her journey.


The presence of women in leadership roles and the opportunity to network with them is crucial in helping motivate other women to advance in their careers. These role models will ultimately inspire women to aim higher so they can then become an example to younger generations as well. 


Sazon also encouraged women to trust their capability, articulate their purpose and believe in it. She leads GCash with the “Finance for All” vision, offering digital products and services that are safe and convenient from paying bills via the app’s network of 600 billers to buying essentials on the GLife feature on the app.


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