Published on: 07-Nov-2014
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is organising its largest single event to attract more young women to take up engineering and science.
Led by a group of female NTU professors, the University is holding a public symposium showcasing some of the best female scientific talent from Singapore and abroad. Titled the
Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology (WEST) Symposium, it is held in conjunction with Marie Curie's 147th birthday.
Curie was the first woman awarded the Nobel Prize and the first person to win the prestigious award in two different categories – physics in 1903 and chemistry in 1911.
NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson said one of the key issues facing a developed economy including Singapore is that women are dropping out of engineering and science at various stages of their lives, such as after graduation or when they start a family.
“We now have fewer women in the important fields of engineering, science, and technology; and we are missing out all that potential and half of the best brains,” Prof Andersson said. “Today’s WEST Symposium is part of NTU’s continuous drive to increase the number of women in the field of science and engineering as well as to cultivate future leaders.”
The inaugural symposium brings together women who represent different generations of engineers, scientists, and technologists. They will share their discoveries and journeys in choosing their current career paths with more than 200 participants, including students from junior colleges and polytechnics.
While women make up about half of the world’s population, about 24 per cent of the scientists and engineers in the United States and the European Union are women, while it is only slightly higher in Singapore at 30 per cent.
“We hope to inspire and empower young women to choose and stay in engineering or science as a career by giving them a platform to network with role models – women like Prof Ada E. Yonath and many of the speakers today, who have blazed a path in this world,” added Prof Andersson.
Professor Ada E. Yonath was the first woman in 45 years to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009. A crystallographer best known for her pioneering work on the structure of the ribosome (cells which help make proteins), she is also a role model for female scientists worldwide having received the L'Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science (FWIS) Award in 2008.
In 2009, she received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz. She is currently the director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.
Taking the lead in organising the NTU symposium is Assistant Professor Sierin Lim from the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering. She is the winner of the Singapore L'Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Award in 2013.
Asst Prof Lim said that while Singapore’s ratio of female scientists at 30 per cent is better than the world average of 14 per cent, there is always room to improve.
“Without women having a sizable presentation in the areas of science and engineering, less attention may be given to problems that are important to women,” said Prof Lim.
“Women of great influence can always be found throughout human history. In sciences we had those like Marie Curie, who had discovered radiation that made today’s radiotherapy possible while other women like Florence Nightingale and Mother Teresa were at forefront of humanitarian aid.”
Another big name who will be speaking at the symposium is Professor Daniela Rhodes, one of the few female members of the UK Royal Society, a highly regarded organisation for advancing science in the world. Prof Rhodes spent most of her career in the world-renowned MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, which have churned out multiple Nobel Laureates, including her PhD supervisor, Prof Aaron Klug.
Other speakers include NTU professors Angela Goh, one of Singapore’s pioneer batch of computer scientists and Mary Chan, who invented a patented coating that can destroy superbugs.
The symposium is followed by a dinner hosted by Professor Teoh Swee Hin, Chair of NTU’s School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, in partnership with the Singapore Committee for UN Women, Humanitarian Affairs Asia and the Singapore Red Cross.
Organisations partnering NTU in the symposium include L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science, Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES), Biomedical Engineering Society (Singapore) (BES), and International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering (IFMBE).
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About Nanyang Technological University
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).
A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.
Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore’s science and tech hub, one-north, and a third campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
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