SMU Professor Sun Sun Lim wins Asia Women Tech Leaders Award

By the SMU Corporate Communications team

Singapore Management University (SMU) College of Integrative Studies (CIS) Professor of Communication and Technology and Vice President, Partnerships and Engagement, Sun Sun Lim has clinched the inaugural Top 50 Asia Women Tech Leaders Award (AWTLA). Held at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, Singapore, on 8 March 2024 and in conjunction with International Women’s Day, the award event celebrated outstanding women leaders who are inspiring others with their contributions to the field of technology.

Inspiring other women tech practitioners

By recognising the exceptional achievements of 50 outstanding female leaders in the sector, AWTLA aimed to shine a spotlight on the role models who might empower and inspire other women tech practitioners.

As one of the Top 50 women technologists working and based in Asia, Prof Lim has been a trailblazer in her field of expertise. She has extensively researched the social impact of technology, focusing on technology domestication by families and young people, future of work and AI ethics. A prolific scholar, she has over 100 academic publications including Transcendent Parenting: Raising Children in the Digital Age and The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Communication and Society. Her articles have been published in top journals such as Nature, Journal of Computer Mediated Communication and Big Data & Society.

“One of the biggest challenges in the design and implementation of technological solutions is catering to human needs and individual competencies,” shared Prof Lim. “My research on technology adoption has taken a human-centric approach to shed light on social needs, cultural norms and literacy requirements, to make technology more empathetic and humane.”

A technologist who nurtures talent of the future

Beyond research, Prof Lim is a multiple award-winning teacher who has supervised graduate students at Master's and PhD levels, and constantly guides students to be daring in thinking outside the box. With technology and artificial intelligence being inexorably woven into all facets of life, talent with the ability to think differently has never been more critical.

Before the term “social media” took off and stitched itself irrevocably into the fabric of our everyday life, Prof Lim was one of the original pioneers in Singapore guiding university students in making sense of early digital social interaction. She has taught a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses including Theorising Society, the Self, and Culture, Social Psychology of New Media, Mobility & New Media and Social Media & Society.

Then, before job titles in the genre of “Social media specialist” and “Digital marketeer” had yet to emerge, Prof Lim and her students were navigating the realms of virtual friendships and online communities from the era of the dial-up modem. It was learning on the fly for them as they broke new digital ground and adapted to an evolving hyperconnected world that is today represented by the ubiquity of social networks such as Instagram, LinkedIn, X and TikTok. 

“My wish is for the technology sector to be as humane and ethical as it is bold and innovative,” commented Prof Lim. “If we want technology to be a force for positive change, addressing human needs and observing ethical principles are essential, not optional. Because technology is so fast moving and transformative in its impact at both societal and individual levels, I encourage my teams to demonstrate curiosity and to engage in constant experimentation. The humility to recognise what you don’t know and don’t understand is vital. A spirit of inclusiveness to ensure that no one is left behind is also paramount.”

Tech aficionado who gives to the community

Firmly believing that academic research should be translated for societal benefit, Prof Lim frequently shares her expert commentaries in print, broadcast and online media via interviews in leading outlets including Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Guardian and Bloomberg, and op-eds in Scientific American, La Tribune, South China Morning Post and Channel NewsAsia.

Drawing on her experience as a tech aficionado, Prof Lim serves actively in public bodies where her research helps to inform policy formulation and public education. In addition to serving on the Social Science Research Council, Singapore Environment Council and Media Literacy Council, she is active in professional associations including the International Communication Association, the Association of Internet Researchers and the Singapore Computer Society as Vice President of the Women in Technology Chapter.

She contributes actively to the community, having served as a Nominated Member of Parliament in the 13th Parliament of Singapore from 2018 to 2020. During her tenure, she advocated for clear guidelines governing the responsible use of AI, data sharing to promote societally-relevant research, greater support for women in tech and championed the enactment of digital rights for children. She also led the Academic Workstream of the Alliance for Action to Target Online Harms against Women and Girls.

Congratulations Prof Lim for your achievements and winning this award!