Women in STEM: Uplift, Empower, Encourage

by: Aine Latoja || Photo credit: The Sociable

When President Corazon Aquino signed the mandate in 1988 allowing March 8th to be declared as a special working holiday known as National Women’s Day, it allows Filipinos to acknowledge the women who have fought for better working hours and equal pay in their workplaces and have become triumphant in doing so. The holiday allowed everyone to recognize women and the long battle they waged against society’s crushing standards.

This month, we strive to inform and engage everyone to promote change in society, particularly actions toward gender equality in our communities. Additionally, we continue to create and facilitate platforms to give women space to discuss good practices, gaps, challenges, and commitments in pursuing gender and development. Lastly, we aim to inspire everyone, not just women, to be agents of change to promote gender equality and women empowerment. 

As we celebrate Women’s Day, we must also recognize women in STEM, especially as Pisay scholars. It is important to encourage and uplift women who want to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM), such as the freshmen who, upon entering the school, are bombarded by these subjects while they are still finding their own passion. As Grade 7 student Christine Mutthan says, 

“… Though they’re mainly male-dominated courses, I feel empowered to reach my goals where a minority of women stand. I’d love to be one of many inspirations as to why women do what they love despite the society we’ve grown to live in.” 

However, gender alone should not be the leading drive for committing to a passion in this field. When asked, “Does being a woman working toward STEM drive your passion in some way? If so, how?” Helena Enero, a Grade 10 student, says: 

“It doesn’t. Some will say it’s empowering but it’s not. It’s only empowering if you’re in a male-dominated workplace when STEM isn’t…” 

Nevertheless, being a woman in STEM is still a challenge. Research teacher Ma’am Jan Morata stated that the inequality in number and opportunities is because of how traditional Filipino families see their female relatives entering such careers. Moreso, as women have always been expected to assume the position of the caretaker of the household, they are left with little to no time dedicated to building their own careers. 

However, her position as a mentor to Pisay scholars allows her to encourage girls and boys, regardless of gender, to become researchers. She further expressed:

“It matters a lot that we have a strong research program which aims to integrate all learnings into a project which tests their understanding of science and technology and uses skills learned from other subjects…” 

With all that said, it doesn’t mean that these women are in STEM; these are real people who actually have a passion for this field. These are women who advocate for equality in opportunities and resources. And because of those who have succeeded in trodding the hard path before them, it becomes easier for women and girls to succeed in their careers. 

In this male-dominated field, the women are here to stay: to uplift, to empower, and to encourage. 

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