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Role models key to encourage women to pursue STEM education careers

Parental encouragement (49 percent), scholarships (38 percent), having female STEM role models (36 percent) and support from schools and institutions (29 percent) were mentioned by these girls as key motivators for them to follow their passion in the field.

Parental encouragement (49 percent), scholarships (38 percent), having female STEM role models (36 percent) and support from schools and institutions (29 percent) were mentioned by these girls as key motivators for them to follow their passion in the field. 

Despite the rapid development of technology in the past few decades, the number of women pursuing education and career paths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is still considered low, according to giant tech company Microsoft.

A recent study initiated by Mastercard, which surveyed more than 2,000 girls aged 12-25 years old in the Asia-Pacific region, found that although "half of 15-19 year olds considered STEM-related subjects when they were young, half changed their minds, and by 17-19 only 12 percent continued studying STEM subjects". Among the reasons mentioned was "their learned perceptions of gender bias, and subject difficulty, despite their interest and ability in the area".

Meanwhile, parental encouragement (49 percent), scholarships (38 percent), having female STEM role models (36 percent) and support from schools and institutions (29 percent) were mentioned by these girls as key motivators for them to follow their passion in the field.

Read also: Indonesian students to compete in Microsoft competition finals in Seattle

"Increasing exposure by having role models in STEM, creating opportunities through direct experience that shows how STEM is able to establish the future, and assist those who seek to pursue a future with STEM, are three key areas that we believe can encourage young women to enter a career related to STEM," said Microsoft Indonesia enterprise commercial director Nina Wirahadikusumah in a statement.

Through #MakeWhatsNext program initiated in 2015, the company has been campaigning the effort in the country, which includes holding workshops for female students in several cities, where it introduces coding and computer science skills.

Startup engineer and founder of free technology school Binar Academy, Alamanda Shantika, shared how she learned to code on her own since she was 14. "But learning [STEM in higher education institution like] Computer Science is very important as you can learn critical thinking, structured thinking, collaborations, communication; not just coding," she said during an event in Jakarta on Wednesday.

"Schools today can help changed female students' perception about STEM by providing exposure on role models for them by inviting local female figures, such as alumni who are working in the related field, to share about what they do," added Female Daily Network founder and CEO Hanifa Ambadar.

Read more: http://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2018/04/20/role-model-key-to-encourage-women-to-pursue-stem-education-career.html