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In celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science last Monday, February 11, She Talks Asia and L’Oréal Philippines gather four inspiring Filipina advocates at the first-ever #STEMSisterhood: She Talks Asia x L’Oréal Philippines Tribe Meet Up for Women in Science.

The first leg of the first ever Tribe Meet Up aims to spark conversations among women that disrupt and challenge the status quo, strengthening female representation in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

During the event, we had the chance to hear insights from four Pinay advocates in Science and Technology. Know more about them and their advice to those women who want to pursue their career in STEM.

Mission in Medicine, Dr. Geraldine Zamora

Dr. Geraldine “Ging” Zamora is a Rheumatologist and founder of the Lupus Bridging Fund. She’s a TOYM Awardee for Medicine for her exemplary advocacy work for the Sagip Buhay Medical Foundation. Her work also includes HIV counseling, infectious diseases treatment, and specialty diagnostics tuberculosis.

Dr. Ging shared that she’s not really interested in pursuing career in medicine. But with all the opportunities and support she got, she’s able to finish her studies. She believe that when you’re really interested in something, you must go for it.

“If you’re interested in STEM and then go for it. Do everything that you can to achieve it. There are many scholarships and opportunities that you can try. I never really dreamed of becoming a doctor. I just wanted to be a model and help my mom. But there will always be opportunities. Never steps on other people’s toes and always just accept what’s given to you by God. It’s really more of accepting the opportunities that have been presented to you,” Zamora shared.

Passion for Science, Dr. Maricor Soriano

Dr. Maricor Soriano is a Physicist at the National Institute of Physics at the University of the Philippines and a TOWNS Awardee. Her work focuses on helping develop low-cost technology solutions, including the “Teardrop,” a coral reef imaging technology.

She’s been in the field for how many years and she’s aware of the barriers that prevent women from pursuing a career in the STEM field.

“I think that children are natural born scientists. That’s why it’s not hard to convince young people to go into STEM. It’s actually the parents who need convincing. If the parents are informed that there’s a career in Science, that’s one way to get more of the young girls pursue a career in STEM,” she said.

“Those who are passionate about Science, can still support the sciences. You may be media practitioners, then go ahead and write about us scientists and engineers. Whatever you are, if you could do something to support the sciences, please do that,” Dr. Jing added.

Supporter of Women in Science, Carmel Valencia

Although she’s not working in the STEM field, as the corporate communications manager of L’Oréal Philippines, Carmel Valencia is in charge in managing the company’s corporate image and initiatives, which includes spearheading and the continuing L’Oréal’s For Women In Science (FWIS) project in the Philippines.

The FWIS program is open to PhD holders among the Filipino women researcher and scientist communities. It is in partnership with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that aims to support and recognize women researchers who have dedicated their work in finding solutions to the some of the world’s most pressing challenges. And since it’s a global program, Valencia made sure that Filipinas can also join the competition this year.

When asked about her advice to the young girls who want to pursue a career in STEM, she said: “Just like Dr. Jing said, “It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to raise a scientist.” It takes a lot of people for that young girl to be inspired and pursue a career in STEM. I don’t have a STEM background, but nonetheless, I feel I’m part of that village. You have to understand that you are part of someone’s village and all of us have a role to play to support the Science. Women can and have the power to change the world.”

Advocate of Women in Tech, Alex Suarez

An advocate of women in tech, Alex is the former driver operations manager at Uber Philippines. She also helped in establishing Uber’s largest markets in Southeast Asia. She’s is currently the country lead of Bumble Philippines, a dating and networking app focused on putting women in-charge and promoting a safer online interaction.

As part of an industry dominated by men, Alex is grateful that most of the companies in the Philippines are now acknowledging and celebrating females in technology. Her advice to young women who still want to become a scientist, engineer, or to work in the field of technology is to have a problem solving mindset and know that the field is open to anyone.

“I think the wonderful thing is that tech can be many many things. There’s the technical aspect, there’s the engineering aspect, there’s also the business and problem solving. If you’re interested in a career in tech, know that there’s no better time this field is open to everyone.”

“If it’s something that interesting to you, start from a problem solving mindset and bring that to your career. Establish what your goal is and set up your map towards that goal. Whether it’s taking an online class, or talking to someone in the field,” she said.

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