The Asia Foundation and Zendesk Invest in Women’s STEM Networks in Asia

Singapore, March 29, 2021 — The Asia Foundation and Zendesk are partnering on a new social impact initiative to track and sustain women’s leadership networks in East and Southeast Asia in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The pandemic threatens to widen already serious gaps in women’s participation in the labor force and STEM fields specifically; a focused approach to addressing the underrepresentation of women in STEM, and especially in leadership roles, is essential to a post Covid-19 recovery and building more inclusive economies in the future. The collaboration will identify opportunities and make recommendations for how government and private sector can better support STEM networks targeting women and girls in East and Southeast Asia, who face challenges in entering and advancing in STEM fields.

Women’s STEM networks play an important role in overcoming barriers and advancing STEM opportunities for women and girls. For example, STEM networks create and sustain a space for sharing, support, and mentorship. While there is evidence that women’s exclusion from male-dominated networks contributes to women’s underrepresentation and feelings of isolation in STEM fields, research on strategies for strengthening STEM networks for women and girls remains limited.

Central to the partnership will be a research report to identify promising networking approaches and practices supporting women’s STEM networks in Southeast and East Asia. By filling in the existing information gap around successful networks—particularly those in Japan, Korea, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia—the findings can be used to inform potential future initiatives to develop the next generation of women leaders in STEM fields. A virtual forum and high-level roundtable discussion will examine the research findings and explore the experiences of successful women in STEM networks.

“Investing in women and gender equality is not only the right thing to do, it’s critical to the growth and success of global businesses. On behalf of Zendesk, we are proud to work with the Asia Foundation to support the advancement of women in STEM careers and partner on research that will give us actionable insights on how we can all choose to challenge the status quo,” said Wendy Johnstone, Chief Operating Officer for Zendesk APAC.

“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to play out in countries and communities across Asia, with acute effects on women and girls,” said Jane Sloane, Senior Director for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality at The Asia Foundation. “The Asia Foundation is pleased to partner with Zendesk to identify structural barriers and the harmful gender norms that deter women from pursuing STEM careers. This includes identifying opportunities for collaboration among networks in the region or ways in which government and the private sector can better support women in STEM networks.”

Zendesk is a customer service software company with support and sales products designed to improve customer relationships. Powerful, innovative customer experiences should be within reach for every company, no matter the size, industry or ambition. Zendesk serves more than 170,000 customers across a multitude of industries in over 30 languages. Learn more at

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals—strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote international cooperation.

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