News / Asia

Women Scientists Close Gender Gap in Indonesia

Women Scientists working in a science research lab in Jakarta
Women Scientists working in a science research lab in Jakarta

Multimedia

Audio
Brian Padden

The United Nations chose the theme of  women and science education for this year's International Women's Day to highlight the gender gap in many parts of the world between the number of men and women scientists.

Yanti, a scientist developing new chemical agents to treat inflammatory diseases like arthritis, says there is no significant gender gap in Indonesia, at least not in her field.

"I find when I enter undergraduate school in the department of chemistry, I found that most students are women. And also at the department of biology at the time," Yanti said.

Yanti, who like many Indonesians uses one name, is a researcher and lecturer in biotechnology at Atma Jaya University in Jakarta.

So is Noryawati Mulyono, who is developing a new type of biodegradable plastic. She says today there are more opportunities for women to compete with men in the field of science.

"Nowadays there is a lot of science competitions, such as science olympiads, both national and international level,” said Mulyono. “So if the women have a good academic record, she can join the competition and the competition is disregarded about the gender."

While the United Nations credits Indonesia with near gender parity in the field of science, overall in Asia women only constitute 18 percent of researchers.

And despite parity in some fields, Indonesia still has a gender gap in the overall literacy rate. Poverty plays a large part in that situation, by keeping many girls out of school, although Indonesia has always valued education for girls as well as boys.

Education advocates say in a world where technological innovation is key to development, a gender gap in science can put countries at a competitive disadvantage.

Both Yanti and Mulyono recently received fellowships for their research from the cosmetic company L’Oreal. The awards are given to support gender equality in science.

Both women are passionate about their work.

Mulyono prefers to spend her vacation, or refreshing time as she calls it, collecting new samples of damar, a substance found in certain trees in Indonesia that she uses in her research.

"So last year I go to Kalimantan I found another species of dammar,” Mulyono added. “So while refreshing I still find something if I can have a chance to do research."

Yanti says the most rewarding aspect of being a scientist is the process of discovery.

"If we fail and it make like, yeah, sometimes we feel like we are losers, kind of like that,” said Yanti. “But after that and then, we think again. ‘OK, lets' read again, read again’, and then we study and then we try to find what's the mistake and what's the solution for that. For me that is the interesting or soul of research."

Indonesia has a long history of strong women leaders in a number of fields. Dewi Sartika, who built school for girls in the early part of the 20th century, was declared a national hero by the Indonesian government. Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia's first president, became the country's first female president in 2001. And economist Sri Mulyani Indrawati was the country's finance minister and is now the managing director of the World Bank.

Despite their recent recognition, neither woman says she feels like a role model or a pioneer because in their experience, women scientists are nothing extraordinary.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid