UP NISMED, Austrian Embassy, ILO, DepEd, and WiTech Conclude Women in STEAM Careers Webinar Series

The Science Diplomacy Workshop: Women in STEAM Careers Webinar Series, with the theme Celebrating Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Culture, and Mathematics, had its fourth and final installment on 28 March 2022 via Zoom. This webinar brought together three STEM women leaders as panelists: Ms. Maria Cristina G. Coronel, Founder and Senior Adviser of Pointwest Technologies; Dr. Cynthia P. Saloma, Executive Director, Philippine Genome Center and Professor, National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, UP Diliman; and Dr. Nicole Amberg, Founder of STEM Fatale Initiative, Institute of Science and Technology Austria.

Guided by the theme Women in STEM Leadership: Leaders for a Post-COVID World, the three panelists graciously shared their expertise and skills needed to be successful in their respective fields. Both Ms. Coronel and Dr. Nicole emphasized the important skills that are valuable in STEM careers. These include problem solving and critical thinking skills, collaboration, project management, and leadership. Ms. Coronel added that the COVID-19 accelerated the pace of digitization with processes and services now available virtually. Dr. Nicole Amberg, on the other hand, advised the youth to say yes to opportunities as this will bring new learnings along the way. She also shared ways on how to raise awareness about challenges for women in science and how to overcome them. On the personal level, one can invest in oneself, while on the institutional level, it is best to include women in management teams. Dr. Saloma shared her journey as a scientist from starting a Laboratory of Molecular and Cell Biology and introducing a new course in developmental biology called Genes and Development. She also mentioned that she was one of the four women who conceptualized a genome center, now called the Philippine Genome Center. This center has several core facilities, one of which had great contributions in RT-PCR testing for COVID-19. In the last part of her presentation, she encouraged the youth to pursue a career in science and expressed the rewarding feeling one gets, knowing that science provides answers to problems in society.

Ms. Coronel mentions ways to keep students exposed to STEM education that will make them competitive in the industries.

All three panelists underscored that being women in science entails having an open mind, being lifelong learners, being patient when mistakes arise, being innovative problem solvers, and finally being ready to respond to the challenges the nation may face.

Dr. Sheryl Lyn C. Monterola, UP NISMED Director, asks the panelists the most effective leadership approach they took in the span of their career.

To end the webinar series, Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) delivered his closing remarks. He mentioned that every woman in science is an inspiration and role model, and that they, too, can excel. According to him, bridging the gender gaps in society is a work in progress since women are still under-represented. However, DOST is slowly closing the gaps in enrollment in Philippine Science schools particularly. He said that starting the girls young will encourage them more to pursue degrees in STEM. When the gender gap is closed, the skills gap is lessened, resulting in increased employment opportunities. The Secretary also added that mainstreaming gender equality and women empowerment in the STEAM sector will pave the way to creating an enabling environment so women can be active contributors to the society.

Secretary de la Peña acknowledges that every woman in science is an inspiration.

Ms. Madeleine Mitchell-Diolanda, Press and Cultural Officer of the Austrian Embassy Manila, then gave the highlights on what transpired during the webinar series. The webinar series was launched on 28 February 2022 and its first webinar had the theme Inspiring Women Innovators in Science and Technology. The panelists, Dr. Maria Antonia N. Tanchuling of the Institute of Civil Engineering, University of the Philippines-Diliman and Dr. Chona Camille VinceCruz-Abeledo of the Department of Biology, De La Salle University shared their research interests and projects.

The second webinar was held on 8 March 2022 with Dr. Catherine P. Vistro-Yu, a Professor of Mathematics Education of Ateneo de Manila University, Dr. Amelia T. Buan, the Dean of College of Education of Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, and Dr. Magdalena Steinrück, a Science Educator at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria as panelists. The panelists shared their journeys in the fields of science and mathematics education.

For the third webinar which was held on 18 March 2022, the panelists were Ms. Alexandra Fruhstorfer, a Transdisciplinary Designer who graduated from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Ms. Ria Lu, the Executive Director of Game Developers’ Association of the Philippines, and Ms. Teresa Barrozo, a multi-awarded sound artist, composer, and sound designer. The presentations and the ensuing discussion illustrated how art, science, and mathematics intersect.

The recordings of the webinars may be accessed from the YouTube channel of UP NISMED, the NISMED TV, and from the UP NISMED Facebook page.