Impact story

Paving the way to gender equality in the STEM industry

Women in the Philippines have found themselves left behind in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industry. The ILO Women in STEM project supported by J.P. Morgan is helping women workers gain the soft skills necessary to meet their full potential and career goals.

Feature | 11 February 2021
Women are too often left behind in the STEM field, and Sandy (in the middle) is determined to change that.
MANILA, Philippines (ILO News) – In the bustling city of Manila, Sandy Noche braves the commute each day to the Emerson company, and enjoys working as an engineer and team leader dealing with supply chain analytics.

Having worked in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field for over seven years, Sandy noticed the need for more female representation in the industry and is determined to change that.

Women in STEM-related industries are often in low-skilled positions and are less likely to progress professionally. The ILO has also estimated that women in the Philippines are 140 per cent more likely to lose their job due to automation than men.

ILO Soft Skills training at Emerson, taken in 2019. The ILO Women in STEM project is supported by the J.P. Morgan and is being piloted in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Having experienced these challenges first-hand, Sandy jumped at the chance to take part in a Women in STEM In Business Soft Skills Training programme run by the Women in STEM project in partnership with Emerson, a global technology and engineering company. Designed to help empower the career development of women in STEM-related industries, the first session targeting women engineers took place before COVID-19.

“The training taught me to go beyond the norm and promote new ideas that inspire innovation and that make the world a better place,” says Sandy.

Solving problems together

Soft skills such as time management, creative thinking and networking are vital for professional success, but women are often left behind through lack of mentorship and gender discrimination. The importance of soft skills in the workplace have only heightened during COVID-19, where remote work and adaptability have become the norm.

Sandy has taken the training to another level by introducing the ILO soft skills modules at work, helping empower women workers to meet their career goals. More than 50 people are lined up for trainings in the next few months, while momentum is building for more.

“Bridging the gender gap in STEM through empowerment of women is critical to promote gender equality not just in the workplace but also in our communities,” Sandy adds.

The ILO In Business trainings use innovative and interactive methods that allow participants to share and learn from each other. Modules include vision setting, teamwork and public speaking which provide practical skills and mentoring for female employees.

As the part of the Women Engineers group at Emerson, Sandy shares how the ILO Soft Skills trainings have allowed the participants to learn “critical skills that are essential for the future” while “creating an environment that would enable everyone to come up with innovative solutions together”.

This commitment to help women move up in the STEM industry is fully shared by Emerson senior management.

“At Emerson, we are committed to creating a workplace that supports diversity and embraces inclusion. We always strive to cultivate a culture in which everyone feels respected and can reach their full potential. We are grateful for employees like Sandy and partners such as ILO who, with fervour and passion, help us support our people and equip our employees so they get the opportunity to thrive and make a positive difference through the work that they do,” said Dr Amit Paithankar, General Manager of Emerson Philippines and Managing Director for Emerson in South Asia.

Online Soft Skills Training at Emerson led by Sandy in May 2020 via MS Teams.

Building a better world of work for all

“Closing the gendered soft skills gap in STEM-related industries is key for achieving gender equality in the workplace, especially during COVID-19. Supporting under-represented groups who have been hit hard by the pandemic is crucial for building a better world of work. At the same time, eliminating gaps, supporting everyone’s potential, just makes business sense,” says Charles Bodwell, ILO’s Enterprise Development Specialist for East and South-East Asia and the Pacific.

Sandy envisions a future wherein gender no longer defines talent and skills, grateful for a father who, born into a farming family, strongly believed that success can be achieved by anyone through hard work and patience and a mother who moved Sandy to be brave and do things with love. Today, Sandy aims to empower others to break through limits, bravely push forward and inspire ideas and innovations that make a positive difference.

The ILO Women in STEM project is supported by the J.P. Morgan and is being piloted in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

For more information please contact:

Ms Linartes Viloria
National Project Coordinator
ILO Women in STEM Philippines