ASM CEO Madam Hazami Habib delivered a keynote address during the Women in Nuclear Malaysia (WiN Malaysia) 3rd Annual Conference held at Malaysia Nuclear Agency from 19 to 20 September 2018
The conference served as a platform to disseminate and share knowledge through presentations and discussions and to showcase the beneficial aspects of nuclear technology. It is also an avenue to place strong emphasis on the education, research and work force that are related to the future needs of Malaysia, through science, technology and innovation (STI).
The Conference was officiated by Dr Zulkifli Mohamed Hashim, Deputy Director General (Research and Development) of Malaysian Nuclear Agency. In his opening speech, Dr Zulkifli applauded WiN Malaysia and Malaysian Nuclear Agency for co-organising this year’s conference in conjunction with Women Empowerment Year 2018.
He expressed his observation on how nuclear STI has benefitted nations such as Japan Korea and France to enhance their national growth. With that, he hoped that through this conference, the peaceful use of nuclear energy can be highlighted so that nuclear STI can be harnessed to propel Malaysia’s economic development.
Titled “Society Calls for Science, Science Calls for Women”, Madam Hazami’s presentation echoes the theme of the conference being “Celebrating the Contribution of Women in STI”. She delivered her keynote presentation during the first plenary session of the conference, which was chaired by Dr Marina Talib from Nuclear Malaysia.
The first plenary session follows Dr Zulkifli’s speech, where Madam Hazami presented her keynote. She highlighted the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is characterised by a fusion of technologies that blurs the lines between the cyber-physical systems, that comprises the physical, digital, and biological spheres. She notes that several nations have embraced said revolution by implementing national policies and Malaysia needs to jump on the bandwagon to ensure the betterment and advancement of the nation.
Madam Hazami went on to highlight the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 5: Gender Equality. The SDGs are one of the pledges that Malaysia has made towards becoming a well-rounded developed nation. In line with the conference theme, she mentioned that the goal strives for nations to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by providing them with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes.
Continuing with her keynote, she elaborated on the current situation of women in the workplace, particularly in STEM fields.
Statistics-wise, female participation in STEM workforce is lower compared to males. Citing data from 2017 provided by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), Malaysia’s labour force participation rate (FLPR) currently stands at 54.1 %, a 7.3 % increase since 2010 which has resulted in an additional 750,000 women entering the workforce.
It was observed that although female make up the larger portion of fresh graduates in STEM courses compared to men, however, a decline of women participation is seen in the workforce.
Based on the graph above, women in countries like Korea and Japan exhibit a “double peak” pattern where women who may have earlier left the workforce but re-join when they are able to, in contrast to a “single peak” observed in Malaysia where women who leave the workforce in their late 20s and 30s usually do not return, due to family commitments.
Shaping the future requires a change in how we think and how we do things. With that, Madam Hazami brings forth the ASM’s vision of Progressive Malaysia 2050. Progressive Malaysia 2050 envisions the nation to be living in a harmonious, prosperous and sustainable milieu enabled by advanced science, technology and innovation and facilitated by agile governance.
The vision is also a call for adoption and development of advanced STI among Malaysian society. This will enable us to adapt, innovate and leverage on STI for the nation’s progressives. The vision is driven by two ASM flagship studies namely Envisioning Malaysia 2050: A Foresight Narrative and the Emerging Science, Engineering and Technology (ESET) study.
Aside from the Foresight and ESET study, Madam Hazami also highlighted two more studies conducted by ASM titled Collaborative Network for Disruptive Innovation and New Economic Opportunities (NEO). These studies have pointed out several opportunities where women could play a major and pivotal role in ensuring Malaysia is advancing towards 2050 for the better.