Women need to acquire skills in STEM disciplines

8 March 2019 - 57   - 0

The aim is to uplift and encourage young women to pursue leadership roles and careers when data shows that women are globally under-represented in disciplines like science, technology, engineering and Mathematics, (STEM), said the President –Asia Pacific, Microsoft, Andrea Della Mattea this week.

She was making the keynote address followed by a panel discussion on Thursday ‘Shaping an innovative and diverse future in Sri Lanka and beyond” held at Temple Trees Banquet Hall adjacent to the Prime Minister’s office. The event coincided with the International Women's Day celebrations.

“We strive to create a diverse and an inclusive environment to enable and inspire all people to achieve more by developing and helping women in STEM.” At Microsoft the mission is to empower every person and every organization in the planet to achieve more, Ms. Mattea said. 

The workshop was designed to provide girls and educators with a better understanding of careers regarding technology by exposing females to become role models in the use science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills to solve real world challenges.

According to UNESCO, 29 per cent of those in science research and development are women with a low of 19 per cent in South and West Asia and a high of 48 per cent in Central Asia. A recent survey conducted with YouGOV In Asia Pacific has highlighted that a third of teachers (32 per cent) have the mindset to show that girls lack interest in computer science, as the primary reason explaining their under-representation in the field apart from other factors such as lack of parental support. Meanwhile career coaching workshops, led by the Microsoft Asia Pacific leadership have provided girls with guidance on how to connect their own passion with STEM. They encouraged participants to adopt a growth mindset by helping them to think about challenging themselves further.    

Meanwhile Microsoft hosted a full day session where over 500 girls, including their parents and teachers and experienced career guides intently listened to a group of industry leaders such as the CEO Abans, Sriyan De Silva; the head of Human Resources –Virtusa, Chandi Dharmaratne; the founder and CEO – Just Goodness, Sehani Rasaputra; and Microsoft General Manager for Southeast Asia New Markets, Sook Hoon Cheah. Moderating the discussion Ms. Cheah said that in Sri Lanka there are more women than men but when looking more closely, the girls are not taking STEMS subjects in greater numbers. “Although more than half of the undergraduates in Sri Lanka are female students, they concentrate on liberal arts and social studies. Encouraging more girls to take technology disciplines will increase their career opportunities in technical areas were wages are high,” she said. (Jayampathy)

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