UWS STEM Fest – Over 650 students, parents, educators and STEM professionals under one roof!
The inaugural United Women Singapore (UWS) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Festival that took place on 29 Oct, 2022 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, saw over 650 students, parents, educators and STEM professionals come together as a supportive community for young women to build their competence and inspire confidence in them to succeed in future of jobs in the STEM field.
As soon as the visitors entered the festival, they were greeted with hands-on activities at interactive booths set up by 18 STEM organisations. Attendees had a chance to learn about molecular gastronomy through chemistry experiments, participate in hands-on circuit demos to discover mechatronics engineering, explore silicon technology through virtual reality and watch a chemist demonstrate emulsion in the form of hand cream.
The green economy, identified to be one of three growth areas in Singapore according to the SkillsFuture Singapore 2022 report, has put a spotlight back on the engineering and science fields, according to Dr. Gog Soon Joo, the Chief Skills Officer of SkillsFuture SG. In a fireside chat at the event, she highlighted that it is fundamentally important for parents and schools today to create an environment for children to be curious about solving future problems such as climate issues, equity, and inclusion.
Singaporean parents are pragmatic and often want their children to remain competitive, and initiatives like UWS STEM Fest help increase the visibility of career prospects in the fastest-growing industries like technology and engineering. The role of parents in cultivating children’s interest in STEM learning and careers remains crucial, and the festival saw over 150 parents discover these fields of study in which their daughters can thrive in. A parent attendee shared that “this event is a great exposure not just to the girls and boys, but as a parent I also get to understand more about the STEM services and the possible career opportunities that my children can pursue in the future.”
In Singapore, women currently make up 41% of the tech workforce. However, about 14% of board positions in SGX-listed tech companies are occupied by women. At the fireside chat, Guest-of-honor, Minister for Communications and Information Mrs Josephine Teo highlighted the importance of ensuring women representation in STEM given their valuable contributions, and encouraged students and parents to pursue their interest in the field. Mrs Teo added “It is important for our workplaces to remain inclusive and collaborative for men and women alike, and for employers to recognise talent in tech and be willing to develop them, regardless of their gender.”
Job readiness skills were identified as an important component to push girls to confidently step into STEM careers. 50 STEM role models and young women participated in one-to-one job readiness consults where girls got a chance to further develop their soft skills and gain confidence for employment. “The job readiness consult session was a great opportunity for me to get inspired and hear from a different perspective as I transit(ion) into the workforce after graduating from NUS,” a female student from NUS commented.
An attendee shared with UWS that “as a student studying science, seeing how the different fields of science are applied to real-life is very eye-opening. I managed to connect with a professional from a field in which I aspire to work. This event was a great place to network and explore the different job opportunities!”
This inaugural STEM Festival aims to create the 5 C’s for girls in STEM, namely, the Confidence, Competence, Connection, Community and make them aware of the Choices they have to pursue a successful career. The event succeeded to be true to its tagline ‘STEMpowering the next generation of female leader’, and was received very well by all the stakeholders. With the right support, it could become an annual event in Singapore’s STEM events calendar.