Efforts to get more women into the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) received encouraging support from Manpower Minister Tan See Leng's personal contribution of $1 million this week. He made the announcement at a forum commemorating the first anniversary of Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Promotion of Women in Engineering, Research and Science (Powers) programme, which aims to close the gender gap in such career fields. The programme facilitates creating a supportive ecosystem, conducts research to address diversity barriers, and provides education and skills training for career advancement in Stem fields.
It is an excellent example of the role a university can and should play to reduce gender differences in such fields, which are crucial for Singapore's development. Unfortunately, according to a Powers programme survey, only 58 per cent of women who graduate with Stem diplomas or degrees went on to work in a related field, compared with 70 per cent of men with the same qualifications. This is in spite of women and men expressing equal interest in Stem-related careers.