Smashing gender stereotypes in Southeast Asia

Across the world, women represent only 35% of STEM students in higher education* (STEM for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and just 30% of the world’s researchers**.

This disparity would not be explained by a difference in access to studies alone, but rather by long-standing biases and gender stereotypes. These barriers also hold true in Southeast Asia. While differences across country contexts are undeniable, in general, girls in SE Asia have less access to education and even less access to STEM-related fields. There are countries in SE Asia where education levels are comparable to those found in Sub-Saharan Africa.

We are proud to share that Chinda, one of the scholars from the London Scholarship Programme in 2019, was part of the first generation of girls to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She comes from a family with no access to education and she is determined to become a researcher specialized in the reduction of atmospheric pollution. We thank EDF UK, Bouygues UK , Safe Air Quality Ltd and Chrysalix Technologies for providing Chinda with invaluable and inspiring science-related work-shadowing opportunities!

With help from Children of the Mekong for more than 11 years, Chinda has been motivated enough to continue her studies despite her highly disadvantaged background. Surprisingly, confronting prejudice and male domination in science was not the greatest obstacle for her. As she says:

“No matter where you come from, no matter who you are, you have the right to dream big. If you love education, you should do it and try to achieve your goal”.

At Children of the Mekong, we wish all women in the world who love science to continue in this field and achieve their dreams. The world needs more women and girls in Science.

Have a nice International Day of Women and Girls in Science!


**Unesco Institute for Statistics