#GirlPowerinTech: ILO-organized forum proves that #WomenCanDoIT

Women face a lot of challenges in the workplace, more so if that woman is in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (or STEM).  Traditionally, STEM sectors are dominated by men but through the years, and with the advancement of technology, it is now ripe for women to be part of it not only as employees but as decision-makers, as well. 

This will be proven by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as it organizes a forum which will gather four women leaders along with a number of relevant public and private stakeholders in STEM sectors.  The forum, a few days before the International Women's Month, also marks the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in STEM.  It is organized by the ILO Women in STEM Workforce Readiness and Development Programme with the support of J.P. Morgan and in cooperation with the Embassy of the United States in the Philippines and American Spaces-Philippines. 

The four esteemed speakers -- women-leaders in their own right -- are Aileen Judan-Jiao, the President and Country Manager of IBM;  Ambe Tierro, the Senior Managing Director, Global Artificial Intelligence of Accenture Technologies; Ma. Cristina 'Beng' Coronel, President and CEO of Pointwest Technologies; and Michie Ang, Founding Director of Women Who Code. 

"The forum will gather these four remarkable women to show that there is a fulfilling career for women in STEM.  They were able to surpass various challenges in life and their career, balancing their role as a business leader and mother.  It is also an opportunity to inspire Filipino girls who are interested to go into the STEM path of education and training," says Linartes Viloria, National Project Coordinator, Women in STEM Workforce Readiness and Development Programme in the Philippines of the ILO.  

Participants of the event will also get the chance to hear messages of support directly from private organizations and government institutions regarding the need for more women to be involved in STEM-related industries.  Among them will be Carlos Ma. Mendoza, Head of Banking and Deputy SCO of J.P. Morgan Chase; Deputy Director General Rosanna Urdaneta from the Office of the Deputy Director General for Policies and Planning of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); Undersecretary John Henry Naga from the Office of the Undersecretary for Management and Operations of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT); and Philip Roskamp, Public Affairs Counselor of the Embassy of the United States in the Philippines. 

The forum aims to highlight the need -- and call the attention of government, theprivate sector and social partners  -- for more opportunities for women in STEM.   

"Over the next two decades, technological advances including cloud technology and robotic process automation, will significantly change jobs and enterprises in the Philippines. The ILO estimates that 49% of employment (over 18 million jobs) face a risk of automation in the Philippines. Female are employed predominantly in jobs requiring low STEM skills, which are clearly at risk of automation. Women are 140% more likely than men to losing their job as a consequence of automation," says Viloria, citing an ILO study.  

"To address these issues, and considering the national economic and social development priorities, the ILO through its Women in STEM Workforce Readiness and Development Program identified the IT-BPO sector as high-growth in the Philippines, presenting significant projected STEM-related skills gaps and opportunities for growth for women over the next decades," she adds.  

Female employment in the Philippines is currently concentrated in low-skilled occupations. To change this, the ILO Women in STEM Workforce Readiness and Development Programme aims to improve women acquisition and adoption of critical soft and technical STEM-related skills for the sector and, in this way, contribute to reduce the skills mismatches that are affecting workers’ productivity and enterprises’ competitiveness in this rapidly changing context.

The ILO forum brings together public and private stakeholders, to advance the cause of women workers in STEM sectors and occupations.  If more women have access to quality STEM-related employment with sustainable career and livelihood prospects, then it would only be in a matter of time when women will make economic growth more inclusive, improving the work and life conditions for all.   

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