Public awareness of the importance of women in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field continues to increase. In fact, the interest of female students to pursue an education in these fields is high. However, the enthusiasm does not remain at the professional level, and this indicates a problem faced and needed to be resolved.
In the report of A Complex Formula: Girls and Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in Asia released by UNESCO and Korean Women's Development Institute in 2015, stated the number of female students in the STEM field could be quite a lot. Some of the numbers of female students in the pharmaceutical field reached 88 percent, biology 80.7 percent, 73 percent medicine, 66.8 percent chemistry, 57.7 percent mathematics, and physics 38.9 percent.
Unfortunately, the high interest in the field of the STEM in the education level does not continue into career and employment. In a study released by Microsoft Europe, it was found that women's interest in STEM dropped at age 15 because of sex stereotypes, less of female role models, pressure from playmates, and lack of encouragement of parents and teachers.
Meanwhile, the UNESCO study recorded the number of female researchers in the field of the STEM in Indonesia only 31 percent while men reached 69 percent. Furthermore, Microsoft Asia study results in 2017, found that only 20 percent of women in the world who choose to work in the STEM industry. In fact, with the increasing role of women in the STEM industry can come to suppress the high gender gap in the workforce that still happens in Indonesia.
The challenge of balancing time and role between the domestic and professional world is one of the main issues underlying the scarcity of women in the STEM professional industry. Besides, the problem of lack of support from companies for women to develop a career is also another factor.
Therefore, it is necessary for the stakeholders to remove these barriers. From communities, academics to policymakers in government and business need to sit together to formulate a first step that can be taken to begin solving this problem.
The government can take a role by providing good space and regulation to the business world in supporting the involvement of women in the STEM industry. Meanwhile, from the business and institutional side should provide equal opportunities for women to fill strategic positions within the company, as well as to provide pro-women rules and policies.