Audrey Pe is the founder and executive director of WiTech, a non-profit organisation based in the Philippines that aims to break gender barriers using technology. Even whilst still a first-year student at Stanford University, Audrey has already made a difference in the tech world, having been recognised as a 2018 Zonta Young Women in Public Affairs District awardee, 2019 Zonta Women in Technology Asia-Pacific District Scholar and 2019 Global Teen Leader and Opportunity Desk Changemaker. She has already delivered over 50 talks, including as a UN, ASEAN, and TEDx speaker.
“Engaging with the tech industry has no one set path – your tech journey is whatever you make it.”
Being a non-profit founder
I’m the founder and executive director of WiTech (Women in Technology) and a freshman at Stanford University, where I intend on majoring in science, technology, and society, with a minor in education.
WiTech is a non-profit organisation that aims to educate, inspire, and empower youth to break down gender barriers and use tech to make a difference in society. I founded it when I was 15 and sought to find role models in the tech industry. Almost five years later, we have 20 chapters spread out across 10 countries around the world.
Balancing running WiTech with academic life
Every day, I check my emails and the WiTech Discord server to get updates from my team. I generally hop on 1-4 calls a day – these range from talks, panels, partnership calls, and team meetings.
My role as executive director means that I lead a team of chapter coordinators that supervise our 20 chapters around the world. We work towards making resources and mentorship available for all our chapters to enact their own events and projects geared towards closing the gender and accessibility gaps in tech. When I’m not working on that, I’m giving talks about non-profit management, networking, etc. online.
When I’m not working on WiTech, I’m in class or studying for my classes. Balancing school and WiTech constantly challenges me to be better at time management. I’m motivated by the idea that WiTech isn’t work – it’s something that contributes to an overall cause that I’m passionate about.
We will not be beaten by COVID-19
COVID-19 has made all our events go virtual. This was a challenge given that our Women in Tech teach programme, Wi-Teach, where we go to low-income communities to bring introductory tech education, is primarily an in-person activity.
Due to the pandemic, we’ve shifted to create opportunities for youth to access tech resources online via women in tech talks, conferences, blog posts, etc.
Less than one-fifth of tech companies in the Philippines were founded by women – let’s fix this
According to the Philippine Startup Survey, only 18% of tech companies in the Philippines there were founded by women. I remember reading about this statistic prior to starting WiTech and wanting to do something (anything, really) to help close the gender gap.
Currently, WiTech hosts an annual women in tech conference, WiTCon (first of its kind by students and for students in the Philippines), a women in tech teaching programme to bring tech to low-income communities a roadshow to expose students to different careers in tech, and more.
Overall, we are geared towards building a future where all youth, regardless of their gender or socioeconomic status, has access to tech and the potential to use it for social good.
Everyone has to start somewhere
My advice to girls and women who are interested in careers in tech is to be bold.
If you do find yourself getting intimidated, remember that everyone has to start somewhere. Engaging with the tech industry has no one set path – your tech journey is whatever you make it. There is always somebody to help you.
Don’t stop. Keep growing!
Moving forward I’m really excited about continuing to grow WiTech’s global community!
There are so many amazing members from around the world that strengthen my resolve to keep working at the intersections of tech, gender equality, and education. There’s so much more we can achieve by working together.