Vong Oun, a systems admin assistant at the Phnom Penh Post’s office has a confident outlook. “Whatever a man can do, I also can do,” she says.
The information technology (IT) field is considered to be dominated by males, and it is unusual in Cambodia to see a female keen to become an expert in this field. Nevertheless, at the age of 22, Vong Oun, also known as Srey Oun, is studying for a bachelor’s degree in IT at Puthisastra University and is the youngest IT staff member at the Phnom Penh Post.
Srey Oun honestly has had doubts about her major since she found out that the IT field does not offer such broad opportunities for women to get jobs. The thinking is that an IT career is more suited to men.
“After I graduated from high school, I got a two-year scholarship to study IT at the Center for Information System Training (CIST). Besides, I truthfully did not know what IT was really about, although I attended an orientation day before I had to make a decision,” she said.
“I thought it might not be so easy to get a job in this profession, in view of the fact that it was prioritised so much towards men.”
Happily, after more than a year working in this field, Srey Oun is much more satisfied and enjoys what she is doing.
As a result, every day of her working life she is required to walk around the floor giving IT assistance to other staff members in different departments who get stuck with connecting to networks, printing, errors in the system and many other kinds of IT problems.
Rarely does she stay by her desk. If someone needs her help, they will give her a phone call or reach her directly. Sometimes, when people are in a rush to fix their computer problem, she can be found anywhere in the building.
Being an IT controller means Srey Oun has to be creative and flexible, because the lessons she has learnt in class do not not always prepare her for the daily challenges she faces on the job.
“Different computers have different problems, so I’m required to be more inventive. For example, if a virus crashes a computer, I might take a couple of days to correct those problems. In contrast, if I take the hard disk out of a computer to back up onto another computer for recovering the documents, it might take less than a day,” she explained.
What I observed from spending a few hours with Srey Oun is that she doesn’t have any free time at all. After installing programs in a computer, she needs to connect a staff member’s new laptop to the network, along with other tasks.
It seems as though hundreds of people come to her one by one. Surprisingly, Srey Oun always welcomes them with a smile and treats them with kindness.
She ended by saying that she has never felt exhausted, because she supports only this office. On the contrary, she has learned so much from what she does every day that she knows it will be of great use in reaching her future goals.