Wanted: 1,000 female students keen on excelling in STEM
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Technological Council (PTC) aims to recruit at least 1,000 female senior high school students to its engineering mentorship programs.
PTC, described on its website as an “umbrella organization of the 13 professional engineering [groups] in the country,” said it will launch on April 3 a project called “Women Engineers as Instruments for Sustainable Engineering in Renewable Energies” (Wiser).
The project aims to encourage female students under the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) branch of the senior high school curriculum to join its mentorship programs on the watch of practicing women engineers. Wiser does not offer financial educational support. But PTC said the project is an opportunity for female students to take part in the growing sector of renewable energy.
‘Female labor force’
The council said the students may also avail themselves of other programs for career advancement under the Wiser project.
When asked about her group’s focus on female students, PTC chair May Imperial said “We have a good number of women or girls taking up engineering. It’s just that when they graduate, they don’t actually practice engineering because, for some reason, when they get married, they cannot juggle both their career and their [family responsibilities].”
A 2019 study by the National Economic and Development Authority said the country’s “patriarchal culture” and “stereotypes, gender roles, and religion” have prompted many women to set aside or abandon altogether their chosen professions.
“Marriage and childbearing are associated with a significant decline in female labor force participation,” especially in the 25-29 age group, the study said.
This is why PTC had earlier formed the Women’s Engineering Network, Imperial said.
“We really wanted to invite back those women to really practice engineering again,” she said of the network organized in 2015 which, according to the council, is now the biggest organization of female engineers in the country.
In recent years the council has encouraged more students, especially girls, to pursue the disciplines under STEM.
Imperial said PTC has a grant of P8.9 million from the United States Agency for International Development Energy Secure Philippines for its Wiser project.
The council plans to use that money in recruiting an initial 1,000 female students from Metro Manila and from the cities of Baguio, Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Iloilo, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran, and Zamboanga.
There is currently a gender gap in engineering studies in the country, based on the Commission on Higher Education’s figures that only two out of every seven engineering students are women.
Imperial said female senior high students are at that “point of deciding what career they want. [So] that’s the point where we want to influence them.”
The PTC chair said she plans to introduce more projects as a support system for female college students and graduates in engineering.