Across the globe, countries are exploring innovative ways to bring more girls into STEM, and Asia is no exception. In our hi-tech oriented times, these disciplines are significant channels through which women can break the glass ceiling and build a successful career.
According to a 2015 Report by UNESCO Bangkok - It's Complicated
In 2015, UNESCO Bangkok produced a fascinating report called 'A Complex Formula: Girls and Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Asia'. The report examines a wide range of issues in order to answer three main questions: "Where do we stand? What led us here? Where to from here?" and the answers reflect a complicated and challenging reality. UNESCO Bangkok identifies gender stereotypes, general societal anxiety and a lack of role models, as the main barriers standing between Asian women and the STEM disciplines. According the report, the only countries in Asia with some parity in the numbers of females involved in research, innovation and technology were Kazakhstan, Thailand and the Philippines – that's three out of 18 countries in the Asia region. Clearly some inventive thinking is required to improve these numbers and thankfully there are a lot of creative initiatives doing just that. Here are three examples:
This is a non-Profit educational organization in Singapore. Its mission is to teach young girls aged 10-15, how to utilize their curiosity, creativity and imagination in technical fields. Every year, they publish seven educational challenges in a variety of fields and encourage girls to participate in those that are STEM related. The girls are invited to take part in a series of workshops that stretch and enrich their technological skills. These workshops celebrate innovative thinking, inventiveness and entrepreneurship and empower girls to believe in their ability to become industry innovators.
Indian Girls Code
This program is a creation of Robotix Learning Solutions, a robotics education company dedicated to closing the gender gap for women in STEM. The active-learning based program was specifically designed for girls from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds in order to offer them powerful tools and knowledge. Indian Girls Code began with an orphanage for girls in the Annai Ashram in Trichy where 25 girls, aged 7-12 were taught how to code and develop apps that address real issues and challenges.
The National Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Malaysia (NAWEM)
NAWEM is an NGO that builds and strengthens connections between women in the fields of engineering, aerospace, manufacturing, IT and other STEM fields. The organization focuses on supporting female entrepreneurs by providing personal mentoring and business networking opportunities and inviting them to take part in international conferences, conventions and professional events.
While female CEOs are still rare in the startup ecosystem and most STEM related positions are still occupied by men, it seems that thanks to organizations and initiatives like these, the future may be brighter.