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SEMICON Taiwan 'women power' panel draws large audience

09/08/2023 02:28 PM
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Visitors walk around the SEMICON Taiwan Expo on Wednesday in Taipei. CNA photo Sept. 6, 2023
Visitors walk around the SEMICON Taiwan Expo on Wednesday in Taipei. CNA photo Sept. 6, 2023

Taipei, Sept. 8 (CNA) A large audience gathered Thursday to listen to female executives on a "Women in Semiconductors" panel share their experiences of working in what is often described as a "male-dominated" industry and offer advice to those hoping to follow in their footsteps at the SEMICON Taiwan Expo.

The "Women in Semiconductors" panel was part of the "Talent Program" held at this year's expo, where different aspects of the industry are being discussed, including the value of vocational education and talent development. The panel was comprised of five women from highly-regarded semiconductor companies who shared their views on the widely-held assumption that the industry is dominated by men.

Lee Yi-hsin (李儀欣), head of rewards data intelligence at WTW Taiwan, a consultancy company, introduced the panel by giving a general overview of the job market. She said that 90 percent of companies in Taiwan are presently "having difficulties filling tech-related openings."

Sept. 6: TSMC Chairman touts future of semiconductor development at SEMICON

Citing a survey conducted by the company this year, she added that the gender ratio in Taiwan's high-tech and semiconductor industries changes dramatically as you move up the ranks, with fewer and fewer women in higher positions.

"Only 12 percent of executives in the high-tech industry are women, and the semiconductor industry is worse with only 6 percent," Lee said.

This is in contrast to the operator level, where the ratio is about fifty-fifty in both the high-tech and semiconductor industries, she added.

Salary-wise, "men in the high-tech and semiconductor industries earn about 9 percent and 7 percent more [respectively] in annual compensation than their female counterparts," she added.

Sept. 6: MIH touts semiconductor applications at SEMICON Taiwan

On how to smash this glass ceiling women face, the five panelists agreed that women should not feel the pressure to "frame themselves" and conform to certain stereotypes.

Shirley Pan (潘先俐), area sales director at Texas Instruments, said despite having degrees in electrical engineering, she found sales more fulfilling. "Don't confine yourself to a pre-set mindset and you'll have more room to grow," she said.

Elaine Yang (楊文華), senior director of human resources at Lam Research, who studied business administration, was the only panelist with a non-engineering educational background.

"I believe that the semiconductor industry needs all kinds of talent. I know many sales staff or even some engineers at Lam Research who do not have a technical background; the point is that you need to look for a company that offers well-designed job training programs," Yang said.

Zhou Yuan-yuan (周圓圓), global business director of Dupont, also noted the importance of finding a "suitable" workplace for women to hone their skills. "This means a company that values diversity and inclusion, which is demonstrated by how much effort it puts into removing 'unconscious biases,' such as implicitly believing some jobs are not for women, in its hiring and promoting processes."

Zhou also urged women to "speak up" and "self-promote," saying she often saw women who did not confidently express their views despite actually being knowledgeable.

Technological advances have also helped alleviate concerns about physically taxing tasks that used to be shied away by or not open to women.

Mindy Lin (林敏玉), deputy general manager of quality and reliability assurance at UMC, said, for example, going into fabs requires wearing a "bunny suit" or full protective clothing, "which is quite uncomfortable," but is now less so with the assistance of automation and new information technology.

Offering workplace advice to all young people, Sunny Li (李淑霞), vice president of human resources at ASE Inc., Kaohsiung, said that two skills are crucial, the first being "the ability to self-reflect" and the second having solid communication skills.

When asked about #Me Too, the panelists agreed that the stance and culture of a company will determine whether victims receive proper assistance or not.

SEMICON Taiwan is holding its largest-ever exhibition at Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center from Sept. 6-8, bringing together 950 exhibitors from across the world.

(By Alison Hsiao)


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