Celebrating every young girls skills, capabilities and dreams in STEM
Pinays Can STEM shows young girls that they too, with their own abilities, can do anything! By building their confidence and exposing them to the wonders of STEM, we encourage them to achieve greater heights, then eventually reimagine a better life for the nation.
“What I want to see is to have any young girl interested in science find role models in an accepting environment, to push them to pursue that career and be successful in it.” – Dr. Reina Reyes, Physicist, in Pinay’s Can STEM’s #MySTEMJourney video last November 2020.
The Philippines ranks 16th in the world’s gender gap, making the country have the smallest gender gap in Asia. In fact, women comprise 49% of the Science and Technology workforce. However, even with this growth, there are many factors that contribute to the gender gap in STEM, particularly for young female learners. On average, only 36% of STEM graduates are women, and from that, only 46.2% are employed in STEM-related fields.
A whole gamut of hindering factors—the male-dominated STEM education system, the lack of support towards girls’ capabilities, gender stereotypes and biases, and the global digital divide—disproportionately affects women and girls everywhere. In the country, the apparent lack of female role models, prevailing gender stereotypes, and the underrepresentation of women professionals in STEM discourage young Pinays to pursue the STEM track.
Ever more highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Filipinas have had a presence and a greater contribution not only in healthcare, but also in research, engineering, information technology, and public health in the country. In a recent study by the International Labour Organization, gender diversity in the workplace has increased profitability, productivity, and creativity in various Filipino companies, pushing the growing need to invest in building opportunities for women in STEM.
“Diversity should come in the form of increased opportunities for all gender and socioeconomic strands so that tech turns into a right instead of a privilege.” – Audrey Pe, Founder of WiTech, in Pinays Can STEM’s STEMpower article: This International Day of the Girl, meet the (girl) gang making their mark in STEM, during International Day of the Girl last October 2020.
To celebrate every young girl’s skills, capabilities, and dreams, STEM+PH, Unilab Foundation’s flagship program that promotes STEM education by nurturing integrated STEM learners, innovators, and the workforce launched Pinays Can STEM, an online community advocacy that aims to empower and encourage young Filipinas in STEM. Pinays Can STEM influences women to pursue their dreams, while providing them with opportunities to lead the future, inspiring others to do the same. When given the right choices, opportunities, and tools, Filipinas can achieve greater heights in STEM, no matter what job they decide to take.
“I want to shatter the notion that you have to fit a certain criterion to pursue a career here—that you can wear head-to-toe pink and still be taken seriously. STEM will be a place for all women. The future of STEM won’t be as daunting as hearing ‘science, technology, engineering, and mathematics’ because it will be multidisciplinary, collaborative, creative, and non-judgmental.” – Erika Modina, President of EpiMetrics, Inc., in Pinay’s Can STEM’s Pinay of the Month article ‘Healing Together: Erika Modina’s Journey with Public Health’ last January 2021.
Founded on the belief that all Pinays are able to create life-changing breakthroughs, it is Pinays Can STEM’s vision to build a community of STEM Pinays believing in their own capabilities. Breaking barriers and defying gender perceptions, the advocacy platform provides insightful infographics, interactive quizzes, local and international inventions and achievements, and inspirational role models for all young Pinays.
“I think it’s great to see different organizations like Pinays Can STEM where I can talk to real life Pinays in STEM and hear her backstory and what drove her to pursue this field.” STEM Student Jammy Mapa in Pinays Can STEM’s #MySTEMRoleModel video with Angelyn Mercado, a Pinay in Robotics.
Within just a few months, Filipinas have already shared their experiences in STEM–from inadequate support from their environment, gender discrimination, to the lack opportunities in STEM–all of which affects their own choices in their careers.
“My goals in STEM aren’t fully supported by my parents because they think that my kuya should be the breadwinner of the family. I wish to take med, regardless if I’m the breadwinner of not. I’ll be a winner for myself.” – Testimonial from a 3rd year high school STEM student in one of Pinays Can STEM’s posts.
“I am a consistent honor student and pangarap ko talaga na magkaroon ng M.D.-Ph.D sa dulo ng pangalan ko. A future doctor that’ll soon make a great change. But a lot of people around me are insisting that I should not continue because it’s a waste of time and money. Sayang daw ako and so on. Despite these comments, I still chose STEM as my strand with no hesitation and I’m proud of being a STEM student.” – Testimonial from a Pinay in one of Pinays Can STEM’s posts.
“I am an incoming Grade 11 student and whenever I mention that I am planning to be an engineer, I somehow get strange looks from people I talk to. I truly hope that we can break the mindset that women don’t belong in STEM-inclined courses!” – Testimonial from a Pinay in one of Pinays Can STEM’s posts.
Through informative social media cards and articles, and videos centered on role models and women empowerment, Pinays Can STEM continues to engage more young Filipinas to pursue the STEM track, and has featured more than 20 Pinays in STEM, over 300,000-audience reach, and more than 3,000 followers on their Facebook and Instagram pages in just 6 months.
Through Pinays Can STEM, Unilab Foundation and STEM+ PH recognize that, to build an inclusive community for women to grow in STEM, their surrounding environment should actively take part in the process. Institutions such as schools and companies can promote gender equality by bringing more women leaders, and creating and preserving safe spaces for women. Male classmates, peers, and family members can be allies who commit to promoting gender inclusion and sensitivity. Leaders can also strengthen and implement existing policies that facilitate STEM education and fields, promote women empowerment, and strengthen partnerships in the women’s sector, policies against harassment, and accountability mechanisms. STEM+PH recognizes the youth’s role in transforming society and, as the leaders of the future, it takes conscious effort to plant the seeds on the importance of women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the workplace and provide them the opportunity to demonstrate and test their leadership.
By exposing our girls to STEM, we give them the freedom to explore its wonders, opportunities, and eventually develop their passions. This will inspire others to live a life well lived by following their STEM dreams, and then eventually reimagine a better life for the nation.
Pinays Can STEM hopes to influence young Filipinas to start with the small things, then further transforming their STEM dreams into reality.
“In the future, I envision women to be and feel as welcome in STEM as in any other discipline.” – Angelina Aquino, Teaching Associate under the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute at University of the Philippines, in Pinays Can STEM’s Pinay of the Month article ‘Defying Deviations: Exceeding the Norm with Angelina Aquino’ last December 2020.
Authors: Dianne Aguas, Camille Mendoza, Isabel Monasterio
In STEM+PH, we continue to collaborate and co-create with like-minded organizations as part of our advocacy to provide equal opportunities for Filipinos, as well as adequate and quality access to STEM education. After all, in order to achieve this, a collective effort from diverse sectors is a must.
We look forward to your support and partnering with you in further empowering young Filipinos to pursue STEM. You may reach us at email@example.com or check our Facebook and Instagram pages for more information.
Together, we can #STEMify the Philippines!