ASEAN highlights women as growth partners

MANILA — The STEAM Ahead in ASEAN: A Forum for Women and Technology has emphasized the role of women as partners for growth in the region.

The two-day forum concluded Friday, encouraging women to be involved in areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM).

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Nora Terrado said women pursuing careers in STEAM would help in narrowing gender wage gap in ASEAN.

A study of the ASEAN Secretariat in 2016 showed that wage gap between men and women among the 10 member states ranged from as low as 1.0 percent in Brunei Darussalam and a high of 12.1 percent in Singapore.

“According to a study conducted in the United States, women with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs,” Terrado said.

She mentioned some possible factors contributing to the discrepancy between men and women in STEM jobs. These include lacking of female role models, gender stereotyping, and less family-friendly flexibility in the fields of STEM.

The official added that DTI and the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs’ Network (AWEN) supported programs encouraging women to step up and disrupt the stigma that men and women were not equal in terms of skills and knowledge in STEAM.

“As technology further allows women to work while they remain to be the light of their homes for their families, the more that we need to urge young girls of today to seek the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics,” said Terrado.

“I hope the message here is clear: women are partners for growth and are equally important as men in terms of advancing our economies,” she stressed.

In the World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report 2016, the Philippines led ASEAN in promoting gender equality in economy, education, health, and politics, which the country ranked seventh among 144 countries.

In the said gender gap index, Lao PDR ranked 43rd; Singapore at rank 55; Vietnam, 65th; Thailand, 71st; Indonesia, 88th; Brunei Darussalam, 103rd; Malaysia, 106th; and Cambodia, 112th. Kris Crismundo/PNA – northboundasia.com