Malaysian Women Who Work In Technology And Engineering
When SWE staged its first Asian regional tournament in Malaysia in recent years, it garnered notice on a worldwide scale. The demand for the Society's activities and services has expanded as Malaysia has risen to the fourth-largest SWE membership nation.
Malaysia is one of the few nations where women in technology have equal representation among researchers and engineers, according to a UNESCO assessment (UNESCO, 2017). According to the most recent Statistics on Women Empowerment in Selected Domains (2017) from Malaysia's Department of Statistics, women made up more than 37% of students enrolled in higher education in the fields of engineering, manufacturing, and construction in 2016. They are notably more prevalent among students participating in engineering, manufacturing, and construction programs at public institutions, where they make up over 46% of those studying these fields (see Figure 1). Additionally, women make up 22% of engineering bachelor's degree holders in the United States compared to 29% of registered graduate engineers, or those with engineering degrees (NSF, 2021). Given that just 6.3% of Malaysian teenage girls assessed in the 2018 PISA study said that they planned to pursue a career in science or engineering, as opposed to 7.1% of girls from OECD countries, this is impressive.
Nevertheless, engineers do not always fit into this stereotype. The most recent annual reports from the Board of Engineers Malaysia show that women are disproportionately underrepresented among practicing engineers and professional engineers (see Figure 2). For instance, in 2019, women made up around 7% of professional engineers in Malaysia with practicing certificates, the highest professional degree earned by engineers. These lower representation rates are likely a result of the same stereotypes that, in Western nations, depict engineering as a male profession and deter women from pursuing engineering jobs.
A Stanford paper claims that gender roles in technology vary between Malaysia and other countries like the US. For instance, professional computer activities are seen as more feminine jobs since they are more likely to take place inside than outside employment, enabling women to work in the field without facing discrimination. To determine if women are more represented in computer and technical disciplines than in engineering, more recent data on Malaysian women's engagement in these sectors is needed.
For more information on the advancement of women in technology, please visit the Anita B website at anitab.org.