Empowering women - strategies to build confidence at work
East Ventures


24 March, 2023


Empowering women: three key strategies for building confidence at work

As a woman, confidence in the workplace can be a challenge for many, especially in climbing the corporate ladder. Various cultural, societal, and historical factors can influence the confidence gap between men and women.

In Asia, for example, there is often a greater emphasis on deference to authority and silent resistance, making it more challenging for women to assert themselves and speak up. Nearly half of all Asian women does not display confidence in the workplace, according to Watson’s Women’s Confidence Survey. Hong Kong has the lowest level of female confidence in the workplace, followed by Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Mainland China.

To help address this issue, East Ventures has again held its women-centered program, “Women with Impact,” for the first time this year, which included a keynote speech from Mari Elka Pangestu, the former Managing Director at the World Bank and Partnerships at World Bank & Board of Trustee at United in Diversity Foundation, as well as a panel discussion on “Tech for gender equity: Empowering women, improving livelihoods”, featuring three key women speakers from the tech ecosystem: Ardelia Apti, CEO of Mapan; Grace Tahir, CEO & Co-Founder of Medico and Everest Media; and Isabella Wibowo, Strategic Partnerships Manager of Youtube Indonesia.

In her keynote speech, Mari Elka Pangestu mentioned that one of the most pivotal issues she found in her 30 years of working is that women lack confidence in the workplace, and building an ecosystem that can provide guidance and support is important. So, how can women build more confidence in the workplace, especially in male-dominated sectors like the tech ecosystem? Here are a few things that individuals and organizations can take action to support and promote women’s confidence.

Unblock insecurities

Many women deal with insecurities from society’s stigmas, which can cause them to overthink and doubt themselves. To unblock insecurities, women must recognize and deal with internal and external factors that could hinder them from reaching their full potential. Many women are capable of taking on leadership roles and accomplishing great things, but just lack confidence in the workplace. 

As Grace pointed out, the key is to identify the obstacles holding women back and work towards overcoming them. By doing so, women can thrive, take up space, and succeed in any field, particularly in traditionally male-dominated industries. 

Women need to reject negative perspectives and stereotypes that the media or others may have perpetuated in the past. 

With the benefit of social media and increased awareness, women can now embrace their unique qualities and individuality, regardless of their appearance, degree, or personality.


Ensuring that women have equal access to education and creating systems that cater to their specific requirements is crucial. 

Education can empower women by equipping them with the knowledge and abilities to make informed decisions about their lives, granting them greater control over their futures.

To promote women’s professional growth, it is critical to identify the skills in which women can excel. Ardelia believes that women can excel in the areas they specialize in and build on those skills, increasing their comfort, confidence in the workplace, and capacity to become leaders.

Networking & mentorship

Networking and mentorship can be incredibly valuable for women in their personal and professional development since it provides opportunities for career advancement by connecting women with job opportunities, industry insights, and career guidance. However, it is one of the hardest natural things for women to do.

Mentors and networking groups can provide a supportive environment where women can share their experiences, seek advice, and receive encouragement. A confidence-building forum can help women increase their visibility in their field, leading to greater recognition and opportunities. Isabella recalls that networking and mentorship are ongoing processes that require effort and commitment. Be proactive in seeking opportunities, and be open to learning from others and sharing your experiences.

Remember, confidence is key to advancing the career and taking on leadership roles. By identifying and addressing the factors that may be holding us back, seeking out educational opportunities, and building a supportive network, we can gain the confidence we need to succeed.

Mari also emphasized the necessity for collaboration between the public and private sectors as well as all groups that care about empowering women in order to have a substantial impact on people, families, communities, and the economy as a whole.

Implementing initiative, East Ventures is thrilled to launch its first Peer Mentorship program for women entrepreneurs to offer guidance, support, and insights as they navigate the challenges of building successful startups. In the first batch, selected mentees will engage and be coached by seven mentors from East Ventures’ ecosystem in two periods of mentorship: April to May 2023 and  June to August 2023.

To gain more insights about embracing women in the workplace and tech industry, watch the full panel discussion below.