Philippines has worst STEM gender gap in Asia Pacific region — report

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Philippines has worst STEM gender gap in Asia Pacific region � report
Stock image of a female scientist and test tubes
Image by Dmytro Tkachuk from Pixabay

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has the worst gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations — a disparity that points to problems retaining female talent in the “fields of the future,” according to new research by an employment-focused social media platform.

Data from LinkedIn included in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2023 found that the Philippines has the widest gender gap in the Asia Pacific region at 22%, which refers to the extent to which Filipino women fall behind men in STEM employment. This is higher than Australia (21%), Singapore (15%) and India (5%).

Based on LinkedIn data, Filipino women also make up just over a third or 36.3% of the STEM workforce compared to 58.8% in non-STEM fields.

“As STEM roles are among the fastest growing and most in-demand, professionals will likely be more resilient to economic pressures,” Linkedin Philippines said in a release.

“With the increasing importance of STEM to the global economy, it is imperative to take steps toward leveling the playing field for women to ensure they will benefit from industry advancements,” it added.

According to the WEF, STEM jobs are “well-renumerated” professions that are expected to grow in significance and scope in the future.

Filipino women graduating but not working in STEM field

Filipino women in STEM are also graduating but not staying in the workforce, the study also found.

Since 2017, LinkedIn has found an 11% drop in female representation in STEM between graduation and joining the workforce, while a 14% drop was reported in 2021.

“In the Philippines, women comprised 4 out of 10 (41%) of STEM graduates in 2017, but only slightly more than 3 out of 10 (36.6%) were in the STEM workforce a year later,” according to LinkedIn Philippines.

This fits with the global situation of women in STEM as LinkedIn data has found that there is a "significant drop" in the retention of women in STEM one year after graduation. For instance, in 2021, women comprised 38.5% of all STEM degree recipients but just 31.6% of STEM workers a year after graduation.

“While the percentage of female STEM graduates entering into STEM employment is increasing with every cohort, the numbers on the integration of STEM university graduates into the labor market show that the retention of women in STEM even one year after graduating sees a significant drop,” WEF noted in its report.

A report by the Commission on Higher Education in 2017 found a similar gender disparity in STEM programs, with estimates that only two in seven engineering students were women. The CHED study also found that only 41% of those taking up Information and Technology were women.

Half of all women scientists worldwide have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment at some point during their career, according to a 2023 survey by global polling firm Ipsos. — with reports by Agence France-Presse

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