A voluntary group, Women in STEM, was launched yesterday in Thimphu to promote girls and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and empower them to contribute toward a sustainable future through STEM education.
The group is a voluntary initiative of women working in STEM-related fields across various government and non-government organisations.
According to one of the founding members, Yeshi Choden, a space engineer with the Department of Information Technology and Telecom, STEM is a crucial enabler for other sectors to advance as the country moves forward; it is essential in nurturing, retaining and enhancing expertise in the STEM field.
She said that the group expects to increase the representation of women in STEM-related careers and enrollment of girls in STEM subjects in tertiary education. “The group aims to enhance research studies on female participation in STEM in Bhutan as there is no such research done so far.”
She added that the Royal Society for STEM provides guidance and support to the group. The RSSTEM is an office under His Majesty’s secretariat to strengthen Bhutan’s scientific and technological innovation participation.
Who can become a member of the group?
All interested individuals can become a member, for free.
One has to register via a google form. Registered members will be eligible to attend various programmes initiated by the group. Members will also have access to platforms to share their knowledge and experience and can be involved in the group supporting STEM-related activities.
Today, there are 43 members from various backgrounds such as engineering, academia, architecture, planning, ICT, and medicine.
The group has planned activities such as girls’ STEM camp, festivals, forums, and STEM advocacy through social media.
The STEM camp last year aimed to inspire girls to embrace science subjects to enhance their participation in STEM courses and careers. Forty-nine UNESCO associated project network schools across the country participated in the programme.
Considering the success of the first camp, the organiser, Wangchuk Bidha of Bhutan Natcom, said that the next camp would be organised in the east. Camp will be open to all schools starting this year.
The group will also conduct an annual STEM festival to exhibit various science projects and concepts to the audience. Pema Deki, a member, said that the event would capture the students’ interest and the public in science.
She said that the festival would make STEM learning fun through activities such as potato batteries, physics in a glass, free energy generators, memory games and 3D printing, among others.
STEM forum, another activity that aims to bring together women in STEM, including researchers, entrepreneurs, and practitioners, to share their innovations and experiences.
“The forum will include tech talks and debates. Discussions and blogs,” a member said.
Furthermore, the group aims to use social media platforms to reach, engage and build the STEM community. The forum will conduct quizzes, question-answer sessions, and post STEM-related content.
Health Minister Dechen Wangmo who attended the launch shared how the country lacked human capital, especially during the pandemic. She said that Bhutan is rich in social capital but lacks human capital, adding that there are only one or two experts in mathematics, microbiology, space, engineering and other essential sectors.
Lyonpo said that science, technology, engineering, and computing is an essential components of nation-building. “Don’t let your gender decide what you can achieve.”