Hong Kong app developers are largely young, male, first-time entrepreneurs, survey finds

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 June, 2015, 3:05am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 June, 2015, 8:44am

Hong Kong's mobile app industry is suffering from a gender gap, with more than one-third of development companies employing fewer than three women, a survey has found.

The survey, conducted by the Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association and the Hong Kong Productivity Council, questioned more than 100 local app developers working at start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises and larger firms.

It found a clear gender disparity among employees, with 35 per cent of companies containing fewer than three females and almost a quarter (24 per cent) employing no women at all.

Among companies with several founders, only 14 per cent of founders were women. In companies set up by a single individual, 93 per cent of the firms were founded by men.

The shortage of women working in science and technology companies in the city is a "pervasive problem", said Daisy Jiang, head of technology and entrepreneurship programmes at NGO The Women's Foundation.

"It's a weakness within Hong Kong both in the academic environment and in the entrepreneurial environment," she said.

The foundation runs programmes designed to help girls at lower secondary school level pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses. Jiang said the drop-off in participation by girls in these subjects "starts very early".

The survey also noted the founders of app development companies were relatively inexperienced. Some 68 per cent had not run a business before, and 63 per cent were aged under 30.

The size of the companies surveyed may have played a role in the low level of female representation, a report on the survey said. The majority of businesses employed fewer than 20 workers, and 23 per cent of firms had only one to three members of staff.

"This is an industry which relies heavily on creativity and technological breakthroughs instead of being labour and capital intensive," the report said.