Chief Policy Analyst in the Office of the Cabinet, Coleen White, is calling for more females to pursue studies and careers in the fields of science and technology, which she noted, continue to be dominated by men.
Her call follows a recent appeal from Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Hon. Olivia Grange, for greater female representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Ms. White, in her address at a function hosted by the Gender Committee for the Offices of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet at Jamaica House on Friday (March 9), pointed out that traditionally, women and girls have been under-represented in those fields.
“I think there is evidence to suggest that there are opportunities to improve women’s participation in these areas,” she said.
The function was held as part of the body’s awareness raising activities on gender issues and in recognition of International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8 under the local theme: ‘Empowering Women and Girls in Science, Technology and Business’.
Ms. White said the event also sought to acknowledge and celebrate women, who are currently in the fields and present opportunities “so others may be motivated to pursue careers in these areas.”
Quoting statistics from a study done by the United Nations (UN) in 14 countries, she noted that the probability of female students graduating with a bachelors degree, masters degree or doctorate in a science-related field are 18 per cent, eight per cent and two per cent respectively; compared to 37 per cent, 18 per cent and six per cent for male students.
Locally, the number of females enrolled in engineering at the University of the West Indies (UWI) stood at 10 per cent in 2015/16; while 18 per cent were enrolled at the University of Technology (UTech) for the same period.
Teams made interesting presentations on projects they are undertaking including the development of technology and geotechnical solutions for soil problems; a flood-risk assessment of 138 Student Living phase 2 at UWI; designing a transportation hub for the UWI Irvine entrance; and a robot demonstration.
Students from Jamaica College also participated in a debate on the moot: ‘Be it resolved that the low level of representation of females in the fields of science and technology is a result of self-exclusion and not social or institutional barriers’.
The debate sparked robust discussion from audience members, which included students from Holy Childhood and Mona high schools.