Some parents are enrolling their daughters in Stem (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) enrichment programmes in a bid to future-proof their adulthood, which they believe will be dominated by science and technology such as AI (artificial intelligence). Assistant engineer, Mr Raymond Lee, enrolled their daughter in a Lego robotics class as they believe coding will be an essential skill in the future – when more traditional jobs will become redundant as technology is enmeshed in society in new ways, such as in emergent areas of machine intelligence or biotechnology.
Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng, the chief executive of Science Centre Singapore said that more women is needed in Stem because they “bring diverse perspectives to Stem solutions”. The Science Centre provides access to Stem education to children from as young as 18 months old, through interactive play, musicals and other activities.
Experts echo Professor Lim’s views and say more girls have to be exposed to Stem from a young age. In the most recent figures from the Ministry of Education, women comprised less than 30 percent of the 2016 enrolment in Engineering Sciences in the six universities in Singapore. There is thus a clear need to do more to translate interest into education and eventually towards entering Stem careers. An early start helps girls to feel “comfortable” with Stem, which will help embolden them to pursue further education and careers in Stem.
Societal attitudes towards girls taking Stem classes seem to be shifting. Parents now want their daughters to be exposed to Stem from a young age so that they will have more opportunities and options open to them when they grow up. Furthermore, many see the inevitable screen-time for children in today’s digital generation as something that should be exploited creatively to bring more intrinsic benefits.
It’s great to have more girls exposed to Stem. It allows them to explore more avenues and opportunities; as we become more and more dependent on technology, it is important to keep up with the times and to have as many talents contributing to the digital field as far as possible.
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