Project Smarter Philippines through Data Analytics, Research & Development, Training, and Adoption (SPARTA) celebrated the National Women’s Month with a mini conference themed “Making Change Work for Women through Data Science and Analytics” (DSA) to discuss the current state of women in the field of DSA in the private, public, and academic sectors last March 31 via Zoom, Facebook, and Youtube.

Development Academy of the Philippines Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School of Public and Development Management Dr. Lizan Perante-Calina, in her opening remarks, expressed that “the empowered women are those who assert their personal identities to lead in our sector. To lead means to reinvent ourselves on several dimensions to enhance the capacity for designing solutions to turbulent problems.” Dr. Calina added that women’s ability to adapt in unexpected times is crucial in addressing problems.

Meanwhile, Deputy Director for Management Services, Cecile Gutierez, of the Philippine Commission on Women, represented Chairperson Sandra Sanchez-Montano as keynote speaker.

“I am proud to share that it can be considered a powerful instrument to encourage young Juanas to pursue careers in technology, engineering, and mathematics and prove that gender is never a limitation in reaching for your dreams,” Gutierrez said to encourage young women pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development’s Dr. Ruby Raterta, chief of Human Resources and Institution Development Division closed the event with this message: “Data, being the new oil in our modern society, will be [the] key towards identifying and bridging the present gender gap in our country. Indeed, data science and analytics are game-changers in society, but what truly changes the game is how women are actively participating in decision-making processes backed by data and analytics tools.”

Other presenters and topics during the event include the following:

President and Managing Director Michelle Alarcon of Z-Lift Solutions, Inc. claimed that there are fewer women pursuing DSA and STEM career paths in the private and business sectors due to lack of confidence and the mindset that the industry is designed for men.

Undersecretary Dr. Rafaelita Aldaba of the Department of Trade and Industry-Competitiveness and Innovation Group, in her presentation on women in the public sector, shared that the participation of women is lagging in terms of accessing digital, entrepreneurship, and leadership opportunities. However, she mentioned initiatives that can help increase the participation of women in digital transformation such as the Incubation, Development, and Entrepreneurship Assistance and Accelerating Development, Valuation, and Corporate Entrepreneurship programs.

“…By bridging the gender digital divide and creating more digital opportunities for women across the country, we will be able to empower women. We also need to create an inclusive environment which goes beyond policies and practices. We need to create a culture of conscious inclusion with a change in mindset,” Aldaba said.

SPARTA Deputy Project Manager, Donna Pamella Gonzales discussed the significance of data in private, public, and business sectors. She also expressed her appreciation of data and how the participation of women can transform the DSA industry.

Associate Professor Dr. Ruth Angelie Cruz, of the De La Salle University-Manila, stressed the importance of building a community powered by parents, teachers, and other institutions to inspire more women to pursue careers in STEM and DSA. She cited Project SPARTA as a good opportunity for women to get started in data science.