What We Do
Despite having unimaginable economic and technological advancements, it is still uncommon to come across women in STEM fields in Singapore. An academically driven society, universities and institutions have been working tirelessly over the past decade to battle this significant issue; in 2014, a total of 9,516 female university graduates were working in the public and private sectors, more than double the 4,438 in 2004. However, there is still a considerable unbalance of men and women who pursue jobs in fields such as engineering, natural sciences and mathematics. So, the inevitable question; why is there an underrepresentation of women in STEM fields, and what can we do to help it?
Many believe that the predicament is a ‘leaky pipeline problem’; primary, secondary and international schools in Singapore go to great lengths to create a comfortable and encouraging environment for girls to pursue the field of their choice. Yet, along the way, during higher levels of education, many women start to believe that they would not be able to sustain careers in STEM, and decide to change their profession.
Others believe that women choose to follow certain career paths in order to achieve a sustainable work-life balance. It is not atypical to assume that women have to work harder to be equally acknowledged as their male counterparts; leading some to infer that they would have less time for their families, causing their commitment and professional abilities to be questioned. This further emphasises the uncomfortable workplace environment, even if the bias is only subconsciously present.
Essentially, this comes down to the confidence we give our sisters, mothers, daughters and granddaughters, something that the deeply engrained stereotypes of women manages to engulf. ‘People just assume that you’re not going to be able to cut it.’ said a female statistician, interviewed by The Harvard Business Review in 2015. To the surprise of many, global statistics show that girls perform equally as well as boys, sometimes better, in pre university mathematics and science courses, and nonetheless face bias in workplace environments which are male dominated. Therefore, in order to diminish bias and stereotypes against females, we must show continual support to our young girls, so they are able to succeed in challenging situations through their undying confidence. ‘Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.’ - Dr Angela Duckworth, Grit.
STEM for Girls is a club in The United World College of South East Asia whose primary objective is to promote the interests of girls in STEM fields, in order to weaken bias against females. Over the years, the club has held multiple conferences where successful and inspirational women in STEM gave talks and conducted workshops to students, teachers, and parents, to help foster change and promote gender equality. We believe that in order to balance the number of men and women in professions such as engineering, mathematics, and sciences, education is imperative. Our website allows students and enthusiasts to read and blog about upcoming discoveries in technology and inspirational stories of women succeeding in their passions. On the 16th of September 2017, STEM for Girls will be holding ‘Be Empowered.’, a discussion-style conference aimed to stimulate learning. Students, teachers and parents will get the opportunity to meet and discuss with flourishing women in STEM fields about the challenges due to gender stereotypes and research in their respective areas of expertise. Help us refute the stereotypes and bias that has affected the lives of countless women, with education. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela