THE education sector must do more to promote STEM among girls, says Academy of Sciences Malaysia Fellow Prof Datuk Halimaton Hamdan.
Teacher education and recruitment policies must ensure a fair representation of male and female teachers in all subjects, at all education levels. In higher level education, students look to their teachers as role models as they begin to shape career perspectives and make choices, she says.
A presenter at the recent “APEC Women in STEM” event in Hanoi, Vietnam, she spoke about cultivating a STEM-enabling environment for Malaysian girls and women.
“For women to be more aware of career opportunities in STEM, teachers and role models play an important part in guiding and encouraging them,” she says.
Among the suggestions by the academy to get more women in STEM:
> Increase STEM workshops
These catalysts break the stereotype that the tech industry is male-dominated and they give students, especially girls, hands-on experience.
> Highlight successful women
Promoting young, successful individuals like Hafizah Noor Isa, who was part of a team that proved Einstein’s gravitational waves theory, provides students with career guidance and encourages girls to pursue STEM subjects.
> Offer scholarship programmes targeted at women
This increases opportunities for girls to have STEM careers.
> Organise STEM competitions
Students will then be encouraged to harness their understanding for STEM as a key to innovation and creating new technologies.