Sciences not masculine fields – PH Space Agency official

By CNN Philippines Staff

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 18) – Opportunities to work in the sciences should not be limited to men, and must be more open to women.

That’s the stand of Dr. Gay Jane Perez, one of those who made a career in space science – a relatively unfamiliar career path among Filipino women.

Perez is currently the Deputy Director General of the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA). She played a key role in developing the first Philippine microsatellites Diwata-1 and Diwata-2, and other space technologies that enhanced the country’s data on environmental applications and climate studies.

“Unfortunately, girls are raised to believe that math, engineering, and physics are masculine fields. This is not true. This actually is a stereotype, which undermines the performance of women in these fields because they believe they can’t excel on it,” Perez told CNN Philippines’ The Final Word on Friday.

Perez graduated from the University of the Philippines Diliman in 2003 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Physics. She also received her Master of Science in 2005 and Doctor of Philosophy in Physics in 2009 from the same university.

Perez shared that her love for space science was solidified when she took her post-doctoral studies at the famed NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

“I saw how I could further enhance what I learned as a student, but this time analyzing huge amount of earth observation satellite data. At the same time, when I was there, I gained better appreciation on the value of space signs and technology and exploration,” she said.

“More than looking at the stars or sending astronauts in orbit, there are very practical applications of space that improve our lives here on earth,” she added.

The PhilSA official pointed out there is a lack of enough female role models in their field – citing the global average that only one out of five workers in the space science sector are women.

“Generally, there is a lack of awareness in career opportunities in space science and engineering,” said Perez.

Perez said she hopes their social media campaigns in PhilSA will entice more women to start a career in space science.

“To the young girls out there, don’t hesitate. Pursue your dreams and passions. Go out, explore, and embrace opportunities. If there’s a chance, pursue advanced degrees,” she added.