Written by Kelly Punzalan
Edited by Victoria Albitos
Many of our favorite brands and companies began as small startups that went on to become highly successful ventures‒ Amazon, Canva, Grab, Lazada, Angkas, just to name a few. In the past few years, local entrepreneurs of all ages have jumped on the startup train and have made waves across different industries. Filipina women make up a significant percentage of these entrepreneurs, empowering women and making a difference with worthy causes. These startups are manifestations of women’s grit and innovation, showing that business is definitely not just a man’s world.
1. StyleGenie Asia
One of the first styling and clothing subscription boxes in the country, StyleGenie provides its clients all over Asia with unique, curated, and environment-conscious pieces to add to their wardrobe.
In August 2016, StyleGenie was brought to life because the founders wanted to make sustainable fashion more convenient and personalized for people lacking time and resources to revamp their wardrobe themselves. StyleGenie clients create their own style profile and have their very own digital stylist handpick suitable items. They then have the option of keeping the items or returning them. Fortunately, returned items don’t just get thrown in landfills, but are resold or donated to Goodwill Philippines.
2. Fetch! Naturals
Fetch! Naturals is a pet care brand that advocates sustainable living and eco-friendly options for our furry friends. Founded by Georgianna Carlos in 2016, Fetch manufactures pet care products such as shampoo and cage cleaners, as well as treats that are not just good not just for pets’ bodies, but are good for the environment as well.
Sheila Lirio Marcelo founded Care.com in 2007 to help families find the right caregivers and housekeepers for their homes. Since its founding, Care.com is now one of, if not the largest, online marketplace for family care and home services. Millions of families and professionals have benefitted from this platform. The company was reportedly acquired for $500 million last December 2019 by IAC, an American company that owns Vimeo, Ask.com, and Expedia, to scale Care.com on a global level.
4. Ka Nami Pasador
With a truly empowering advocacy for women, Ka Nami Pasador began its #periodpositivity journey back in 2015. Ka Nami Pasador is a social enterprise based in Negros Occidental that sells reusable menstrual pads. Not only are they promoting women’s health through their products, but they also provide Filipina women with employment opportunities and inspire their customers to transition to sustainable, zero-waste lifestyles.
5. Tripkada (April Cuenca 2016)
Tripkada is a mobile travel app launched in 2016. April Cuenca and the team behind the app describes it as “Uberpool” for travel.” Users are able to organize trips and book slots on other users’ trips as well. Travelers have the chance to save money, pick and choose trips they’re truly interested in, and meet new friends along the way.
1Export, founded in 2016 by Mel Nava, is an online platform that helps MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) export their products to international markets. The majority of the MSMEs that 1Export handles are suppliers of vegetables, fruits, and fruit products, as well as packaged consumer goods. The company now works with over 200 suppliers.
Written by: Anna Divinagracia
Edited by: Jeri Francine Tavera
“The whole of life is just like watching a film,” writer Terry Pratchett once said. Romance, comedy, tragedy; a movie for the bored, for the tired, for the inspired, and for all — a film for every moment, a show for every time. We love to binge-watch our favorite movie trilogies, and we groan at the moment the screen blacks out after the season finale. Some of us watch movies to pass the time, and some to be inspired by our favorite characters.
Here are fifteen of Earth’s mightiest heroines, female movie and TV show characters the nerdiest of us love.
Riley Davis, MacGyver (2016 – Present)
There is nothing this woman can’t hack. From changing the traffic lights to infiltrating government files, Riley Davis is your go-to girl. The trio that composes the MacGyver series wouldn’t be complete without her saving the day, as usual. Fun fact: she was imprisoned for doing the very thing that earned her her current job. Talk about taking your hobbies to the next level.
Delphine Cormier & Cosima Niehaus, Orphan Black (2013 – 2017)
Human cloning is the name of the game, and Delphine and Cosima know just about everything there is to play. A clone herself, Cosima enrolled for a PhD in Experimental Evolutionary Developmental Biology where she took up everything there is to learn about cloning. Life became more fascinating when she met Delphine, a French scientist, at an institute for the advancement of biotechnology. Fun fact: Tatiana Maslany, who plays Cosima, plays a total of more than a dozen clones in the series: a cop, some killers (yes), a man (how?), a manicurist, and more.
Abby Sciuto, NCIS (2003 – Present)
She may look like your basic goth girl — with the jet black hair and black outfits —, but Abby is a master in forensic science. The lab is her home: where she solves crimes and uses her skills to unravel mysteries, leaving most surprised at her powers. You can say she’s a master of the dark arts, and a great one at that.
Temperance Brennan, Bones (2005 – 2017)
The show is called Bones for a reason; forensics is the game in Dr. Brennan’s lab. Dr. Brennan and her diverse team deal with bones of the dead; they are experts in the field of forensic anthropology and forensic archaeology. With the help of her team, the FBI is able to track down murderers that are sloppy enough to leave clues for her to find.
Amy Fowler & Bernadette Rostenkowski, The Big Bang Theory (2007 – 2019)
If comedy and science are two things that make your day, these two scientists will surely make your life complete. While juggling adulthood, relationships, and their STEM careers, these duo of The Big Bang Theory bunch will tickle your funny bone at any moment. Fowler, with a PhD in neuroscience, and Rostenkowski, a waitress-turned-microbiologist, show us two scientists living normal lives; something students pursuing STEM can definitely relate to.
Darlene Alderson, Mr. Robot (2015 – 2019)
She may look like your typical girl on the street, jacket and all, but don’t let looks deceive you. Just like her colleagues, she knows more than a thing or two about hacking the world’s largest corporations and revealing their injustices to the masses. Just be careful when you give her a drink; she might bring the whole bottle home.
Cassandra Railly, 12 Monkeys (2015 – 2018)
What would you do if an incurable plague hit the whole world and you knew what the future in 2043 would look like? Well, Dr. Cassandra Railly of 2015 would definitely try to find the cure and save the unsavable. Using her knowledge in science and technology, she tries to stop the future from happening and devotes her life to saving the human race as we know it.
Cameron Howe, Halt and Catch Fire (2014 – 2017)
Being a tech-, engineering-, and computer-savvy woman in 1983 is a great feat, considering that your big bosses and your colleagues will most certainly be prejudiced males. Taking the risk, Cameron Howe is one of these strong women, ready to reverse engineer her way through the secrets of tech companies IBM and Microsoft.
Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, & Mary Jackson, Hidden Figures (2016)
They turned their experience into motivation; given what they’ve been through, they deserve more than what we’re giving them. They are the brilliant mathematicians behind NASA. Wondering why your teachers aren’t talking about them in school? Apparently, discrimination has been rampant then and is still rampant now. These women have broken the boundaries of race and gender and have brought men into space with their minds.
Jillian Holtzmann, Erin Gilbert, & Abby Yates, Ghostbusters (2016)
Ghosts are their forte, and science is their weapon. These Ghostbusters saved New York City when no one believed them. Just like the original Ghostbusters, this remake combines the paranormal and the scientific. Unlike the original however, the women wear the uniform and destroy the green blobs. Most of all, they show us how women in technology need to stick together as a team to fend off the ghosts of our time. (Special mention to Patty Tolan, the fourth member of the Ghostbusters! It turns out that anyone can save the world if only we believed and helped the right people.)
Dana Scully, The X-Files (1993 – 2018)
She is considered to be one of the most inspirational fictional women on television, leading women to pursue their dreams of becoming women in STEM, a phenomenon known as “The Scully Effect.” The sci-fi show deals with aliens and paranormal cases that Agent Scully and her colleagues are assigned to, with Agent Scully showing us her expertise in the field of STEM.
Princess Shuri, Black Panther (2018)
Most likely, you have watched this Marvel movie because you like Marvel (at least, that’s what I did). You’ve seen the technology Wakanda has to offer, but you’ve probably missed how amazing the girl behind the scenes is. From designing her brother’s Black Panther suit to creating weapons that can kill, Shuri is a master at invention. After watching Black Panther, there’s no doubt that she’s up there with Iron Man in the tech field.
Felicity Smoak & Caitlin Snow, Arrow (2012 – Present) & The Flash (2014 – Present)
Sure enough, DC lovers know who these ladies are. The hacker and bio-engineer are hand-in-hand in leading the women in STEM of the DC Universe, despite the lack of these kinds of women in their stories. The two work for Star Technologies and Palmer Technologies in their respective cities, for the greater good of the world. Along with their team, the two deal with vigilantes, time travel, and more threats from the world we live in.
Go Go Tomago & Honey Lemon, Big Hero 6 (2014)
As a kid, knowing what you want to be when you grow up is a difficult feat. Luckily, there are some animated movies that inspire women to become what they want to be, regardless of stereotypes. These two characters are worlds apart in terms of their personality (and outfits!), but they’re definitely in sync when it comes to developing their tech projects. In the process, because of their smarts, they get to save the world.
Joan Clarke, The Imitation Game (2014)
“Sometimes, the people who no one imagines anything of do the things no one can imagine.” In a room filled with men who are dying to help build the world’s first computer, Miss Clarke was the first to complete the puzzle that started her career. Amidst the expectations of her parents and her fellow females at Bletchley Park, Joan outsmarted Britain and worked her way up to the great minds that built the supercomputer that outsmarted Germany’s Enigma. The worst part? She had to keep it a secret.
And those were just some of the amazing women we can be in the future. Being a scientist, an inventor, or a web developer isn’t easy, and it sure as hell is harder when you’re a woman. Our heroes make us realize that it isn’t impossible, even if it can be discouraging at times. Learn from fiction and reality: never give up.
Written by: Victoria Albitos
Edited by: Lauren Fajardo
More than 150 years ago, a star was born; or rather, a girl who would grow up to watch the stars.
On December 11, 1863, Annie Jump Cannon was born in Dover, Delaware to Wilson Cannon, a shipbuilder and statesman, and his second wife Mary Jump. As a child, her mother taught her constellations and home economics. She also encouraged her to pursue studying mathematics and the sciences, all considered unusual career options for women at the time. She was an accomplished astronomer and also a suffragist.
After graduating from Wellesley College in 1884 with a bachelor’s degree in physics, she returned home and spent nine years as a photographer, publishing a collection of her photographs. However, after contracting scarlet fever, which led to her almost total hearing loss, and the death of her mother, she decided to go back to Wellesley College in 1894 to teach physics and study advanced astronomy.
In 1896, she joined the Harvard Computers, a group of women working under Harvard Observatory director Edward C. Pickering, under whom she had studied astronomy since 1895. She worked alongside other women who would eventually be recognized as trailblazers of astronomy, including Williamina Fleming, Henrietta Leavitt, Antonia Maury, and Florence Cushman. Together they were nicknamed “Pickering’s Women” and worked on the Henry Draper Catalogue, a star catalogue named after the late Henry Draper, a wealthy physician and amateur astronomer. It was under a group of projects named the Henry Draper Memorial, funded by his widow, Mary Anna Draper, and contained classifications for 225,300 stars.
The Harvard Computers were paid between 25 to 50 cents an hour, in stark contrast to their male colleagues, who were paid twice that amount. As most of them, including Annie Jump Cannon, were unmarried, they were criticized for working instead of getting married and staying at home as housewives. Pickering also barred them from the “more important” duties in the observatory; they were only allowed to do clerical tasks, such as classifying stars and clearing up photographs. Nevertheless, they took the first steps out of the box in which society was trying to confine women, and contributed important work to the field of astronomy.
Annie Jump Cannon created the Harvard Classification Scheme, a universally adopted system that organizes stars based on their temperatures and spectral types. It was originally devised as a compromise between two systems her colleagues were pushing: a more complicated one made by Antonia Maury, and a simpler one made by Williamina Fleming. Maury made a scheme consisting of 22 groups, from I to XXII, with three subdivisions based on the sharpness of the stars’ spectral lines, a line that stood out from an otherwise uniform spectrum that was used to identify stars, a “fingerprint” of sorts. Fleming’s scheme was more straightforward, classifying stellar spectra according to their hydrogen spectral lines, in a sequence from A to Q.
Cannon simplified and reordered the systems, eventually ending up with the Harvard Classification Scheme, which was used in the nine-volume Henry Draper Catalogue (1918-1924). The system is still in use in modern astronomy today; the mnemonic, “Oh Be A Fine Girl Kiss Me”, standing for the seven spectral classes in the scheme, is still taught to astronomy students throughout the world. In 1922, the International Astronomical Union formally began using it as the official classification system for stars. That same year, Cannon moved to Arequipa, Peru, for six months to study and photograph the stars of the southern hemisphere.
During her career she found 300 variable stars, five novae, and one binary star system. She could classify three stars per minute and was known to be ruthlessly efficient. Her total record came up to around 350,000 manually classified stars. Pickering, her director, was in awe, stating that “Miss Cannon is the only person in the world—man or woman—who can do this work so quickly.”
In 1901, she published her first catalogue of stellar spectra. In 1911, she was made Harvard’s Curator of Astronomical Photographs, succeeding her colleague Williamina Fleming and becoming the second woman to hold the position. She was given the recognition and appreciation she deserved: in 1914, she was made an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society. In 1925, she received an honorary doctorate of science from Oxford—the first woman to do so. Ten years later, she created the Annie J. Cannon prize for women who made great contributions to astronomy. In 1938, she became Harvard’s William C. Bond Astronomer.
Annie Jump Cannon retired in 1940, after more than 40 years of work, but not before building a stellar legacy. She remained an active member of the observatory until the end of her life—literally. She continued to work in the observatory until a few weeks before her death. Today, the world honors her with a comet and a lunar crater carrying her name.
In life, she watched the stars. In death, she became one, a shining example for women in science.
Written by: Zara Wani
Standing on the brink of society’s technological revolution, we witness radical changes that alter the way we live and perform, ultimately leading us into a new dimension. What we search for in this ‘new world’ is a shift to a system that will promote equality, foster growth, and maximize human potential. Undergoing this paradigm shift will allow us to pave our way as we walk on the yellow brick road. Women have provided incredible contributions that allow us to enjoy the many technological innovations today. They have been significant contributors to technology, ever since Ada Lovelace. From being advanced mathematicians to developing software, women have proved that they do not deserve the double standards and discrimination still prevalent in today’s society. Women were leaders of yesterday, are leaders of today, and will be the leaders of tomorrow.
The virtual world interlinks us with modern society, allowing us to explore and connect using the digital landscape. As there are women who have specialized in every technological field, truly they have made an indelible mark in entertainment and efficiency through software applications.
A prime example: Ida Tin, the founder of the medically-recommended menstrual tracking app, Clue, an application available both on IOS and Android platforms. When interviewed back in 2017 by Business Insider, Tin stated: “Clue is a brand for female health at the highest level but it’s also a tracking app to help women understand what is going on in their [menstrual] cycles and their bodies more broadly.” Many women have discovered the wonders of the application as it allows them to monitor and document every cycle, which in turn has a positive impact on their bodies.
Another innovation in the female tech space revolves around Melanie Perkins, the founder of Canva, a graphic-design company valued at $3.2 billion. Essentially, Canva is an online tool that allows the user to create and/or publish professional-quality designs as easy and affordable as possible. During an interview with the Entrepreneur (2019), Perkins states “I guess you could say that design had always played a big role in my life. When I was 14, I started my first business creating handmade scarves that I sold at shops and markets throughout Perth, and I never forgot the freedom and excitement of being able to build a business. That was one of the driving forces that led me to launch what would evolve to be Canva.” Melanie envisioned and built Canva from the ground up and has received international recognition. Melanie’s persevering and hard-working work ethic is truly one to be reckoned with.
Lastly, another dominant woman in tech is Kayla Itsines, the founder of Sweat. With over 11 million followers on Instagram, she motivates her followers to practice hard-work, discipline, consistency, and commitment. Sweat (available both on IOS and Android platforms) is a personal fitness and training application that allows the female community to benefit from a vast array of features including several types of workouts and meal plans. Injecting positivity and motivation through her app, she inspires people to go the extra mile. Some of her famous quotes include: “Stop waiting for Monday, January first or anything else. Start now“ and “Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.” With her #bbg hashtag, followers post their life-changing transformations. As a woman inspiring and initiating change in the lives of others, Itsines has been regarded as one of today’s respected life-changing influencers.
The military hired hundreds of women to solve complex calculations that would improve the accuracy of the weapons during the Second World War. The perseverance embedded as a chip in the minds of these women throughout the course of historic wars has molded a spark in their creativity, values, beliefs, and imagination. As women ventured out in different sectors of society throughout history, they will always remain here in the workforce to stay for good. Revolving around a technological space and channeling it as a creative tool of imagination allows us to change lives for the better. Throughout history, women have always been told to stand aside. But today, women have yearned to redefine the standards, and have been succeeding at altering the pre-existing gender-biased views. Women aspire to have a hand at building the foundation for tomorrow’s innovations. As women make up half of the world’s population, we are the music that the planet dances to, we are the leaders of tomorrow, we are women.
October 30, 2019, marked the first of Impacthub’s groundbreaking two-day event: The Impact Hackathon, ImpactHub Manila’s attempt to organize the world’s largest hackathon and break the highly-coveted Guinness World Record. At the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, the event aimed to bring together hackers and innovators from different regions in the Philippines.
As part of the Impact 2050 initiative, the event also aimed “to catalyze the impact entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Asia Pacific”, which also worked towards promoting the development of state-of-the-art digital solutions. The Impact Hackathon, was also the second event in the 2019-2020 leg of the program. The first part was the Elevate Roadshow which took place last July to August 2019. After the hackathon, 2050fest, which will provide funding, valuable networking and coaching sessions to startups with potential, will be held in November 2019, and the Incubation, a startup-support initiative for the entire 2020.
With an estimated 7000 participants in Manila alone, together with over 70 renowned figures and leaders in tech as mentors, speakers, and members of the jury board, the event aimed to promote the booming industry of coding and technology in the country. Many potential startups were pitched during the hackathon, and 27 winners were recognized during the event for the brilliance of their ideas. One of the event’s objectives was also to connect different locations in the Philippines: from Vigan and Pampanga in Luzon, to Bacolod and Cebu in Visayas, to Davao and Iligan in Mindanao.
The event was also divided into three: Students, Professionals, and Scale-Up Startups. The last of which had different judging details and criteria from the rest. The problems were first presented along with the available technology that could be utilized to formulate a solution. Workshops were then conducted to improve solution-making, followed by 24-hour hacking and mentorship time. The different pitch presentations were then done, followed by the awarding proper.
During the event, participants were divided into teams of two to five members and their pitches were judged through the following criteria: (1) technical viability/difficulty, which counted for 30% and judged the contestants based on problem complexity and incorporation of different technologies (interface, AI, etc.), (2) business viability, which comprised 30% and determined how pragmatic the prototype was for business applications, (3) social index, which was 25% and determined if the team was able to actualize their solution and communicate their message to the audience, and lastly, (4) design and learning stretch, which accounted 15% and measured how far the teams ventured to learn something new from their comfort zones.
Through these criteria, the best pitch presentations were awarded and given opportunities to further improve and enhance their ideas into pragmatic applications. Impact2050 was truly an avenue for many aspiring individuals with pioneering ideas that were not only innovative but also applicable in the present world.
Pictures from Impact Hackathon were obtained from Impact 2050’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/impact2050/ (More information regarding the event and its winners could be found through the link)
More information regarding the hackathon and future events of Impact 2050 can be found through the link: https://www.impact2050.com/
Written by: Charmaine Espinueva
Wi-Teach is one of the community development initiatives of WiTech that aims to TIE: to Teach, Inspire and Engage with students through sustainable outreach, education and empowerment. The first leg of the WiTeach initiative was launched last August 2-4, 2018 at Marawi City. Students and teachers of the Mindanao State University – University Training Center were taught how to code after computer modules and laptops were donated by the WiTech team. A year later, WiTech then conducted the second leg of Wi-Teach last September 6-7, 2019 at Tagbilaran City, Bohol.
The recently concluded outreach in Bohol is an extension of WiTeach’s initiatives at Lila National High School. In this mission were Audrey Pe (Founder and Executive Director), Jessie de Grano (VP for Community Development), Marla Abao (VP for External Affairs), Charmaine Espinueva (CommDev Outreach Officer and Networking Events Volunteer) and Jazmine Calma (ComDev Outreach Officer). It was a two-day mission wherein Introduction to STEM and basic coding workshops were conducted for Grades 9-11 students. Workshops on Technology for Education, Research and Office skills and basic coding were also conducted for Lila’s teachers. The educational resources for this outreach were provided for in collaboration with the Library Hub Philippines.
More than the workshops and donations of computer modules, what WiTech aimed for this outreach was to open students up to the various applications of STEM and to ultimately initiate in them a shift in perspective: that yes, a career in STEM is an option regardless of their background and that ultimately they have the choice to pursue it.
Tagbilaran is considered as the center of educational excellence in Bohol where most of its private schools are located. However, for most public high schools in Tagbilaran and across Bohol, their graduates only ever consider teaching or nursing professions as options. Furthermore, in the science strand of most public high schools, students are only ever exposed to livelihood and vocational careers in preparation for entry to tourism and service-oriented industries. Indeed this is a very limited view presented to students given the vast options and opportunities available to STEM graduates.
In addition to presenting students with a wider perspective, WiTeach aimed to introduce new skills in computer science and academic research that can be incorporated into Lila’s curriculum. In the computer classes of junior high school students in Lila, students are only taught how to assemble and disassemble hardware without being taught how to use the software of a computer. On the other hand, some senior high school students lack knowledge of Microsoft Office and how to search for credible research articles despite thesis-making already being incorporated into their curriculum.
Given these conditions, the talks and workshops for this mission were then arranged to address these concerns. On the first day, in a talk given by Audrey Pe and Charmaine Espinueva, students were introduced to different fields of STEM and the various opportunities available in them. They wanted to break the stigma that maths and sciences are solely for the gifted; the perception that science only exists in the laboratory, in the form of complicated equations with no tangible applications. The speakers broke this image by imparting the truth that science is a part of one’s everyday life, that its applications are woven into one’s daily life due to the human ability to question and ultimately find answers to these queries, that the art of science is only discovered should one choose to pursue it, that science is not purely a complex and intangible concept but rather something founded on purpose.
When asked how many of the students liked science, less than five students raised their hands. However, as the talk progressed, the students were faced with a light bulb moment as they were introduced to the design of software games and applications, electronics, medicine, agriculture, and satellite-operated security systems, to the manufacture of everyday items such as food and drinks, make up, engines and vehicles. Truly, science does not end in the discovery and understanding of the complex but extends further to solve everyday problems and improve the world we live in.
Basic programming workshops were then taught to both students and teachers by Marla Abao and Jazmine Calma. The logic and design involved in programming were taught using Scratch – which was a first for both students and teachers. Students showed great interest in the software but the language barrier became one of the struggles during teaching. Most students were only fluent in Bisaya and had trouble understanding Filipino and English. Nevertheless, for students, much time was spent exploring the features of this application and the logic behind basic coding. Teachers, on the other hand, were taught how to use Scratch under the context of incorporating it into their lectures to make their classes more engaging for the students.
On the second day, applications and resources were introduced to teachers to aid their teaching. At the start, teachers expressed that in addition to the lack of teachers for computer science, planning lectures and engaging students during lectures is a struggle for most of them. Regardless of the subject being taught, this is a problem that exists and can also be rooted in the language barrier especially when it comes to teaching complex science topics. Moreover, the lack of resources for a conducive and engaging learning environment proved to be limiting.
The WiTech team then introduced the use of XMind and resources such as Microsoft Office, Google Scholar, Crash Course and Khan Academy to aid their teaching. These are references that teachers can use to outline their lectures and teach their students since they have a better grasp of both English and Bisaya. The team also introduced tips on how to make successful presentations to engage students further. WiTech also shared the idea of using Facebook to disseminate lecture guides and important resources to students, as opposed to it being an avenue for leisure alone. Graphing and plotting software was also introduced to improve the teaching of math classes. At the end of the two-day mission, printed modules ranging from the use of Microsoft Office and Scratch to introductory courses in basic programming, research, and Technology for Education were given to Lila for the usage of both its students and teachers.
💃🏻Flashback Friday Alert!💃🏻
✈️ Last September, members of WiTech travelled all the way to Bohol to conduct WiTeach at Lila National High School!👩🏻💻👨🏻💻💫
— WiTech (@witechorg) October 18, 2019
Indeed much has been accomplished by WiTech but a lot more has yet to be done by the rest of the community. In Lila, as is with most Bohol public high schools, there is a lack of sufficient infrastructure to house its resources. Though computers are provided by DepEd and a Starbooks unit is provided by DOST, the lack of space and wifi connectivity ultimately hinders students from fully maximizing the benefits of having a computer. Currently, the computer lab in Lila is being shared with the sewing vocational subject. Thus, as much as there are computers available, the teachers are unable to maintain them, which affects how computer classes are taught.
Information and Computer Technology classes are not mandated nor offered to the whole senior high school class. Rather, it is only open to the best students on a ‘per-choice’ basis. Furthermore, with the lack of internet connection, lessons are limited to basic applications such as MS Office, video making and hardware maintenance. This hinders students from learning about complex concepts in STEM and computing. The language by which these subjects are taught is also another concern given that the resources available for learning science are in English. Efforts must then be made both by the DepEd and supporting institutions to have basic sciences taught in a language that is understood by a variety of students.
Chiara Ledesma is a prime example of a woman who found her passion in CS, and continues to overcome all obstacles to pursue her dreams. And with the support of family, friends, and peers, she ultimately knew that a career in tech was truly her calling even though it was not the expected path for women like her.
Searching for passion
For Chiara, there was never one clear motivation that pushed her to pursue a career in CS. Learning about quantum computing in a TIME article, reading a mystery novel on forensic hacking, or watching a Benedict Cumberbatch WikiLeaks movie: her curiosity was piqued and she found her inclination. “I just found it really cool,” she mentioned.
As a debater in her high school, Chiara was aware of the existent gender gap which affects women like her in achieving their dreams in STEM. “I came across a lot of online campaigns (such as Obama’s) that tried to get young American students to study computer science.” For her, it was not only a dream, but a challenge and obligation to pursue her calling in CS.
The road to this dream, however, was not smooth. Her first year, she and her classmate “half-joked” about shifting as they had difficulty adjusting. She even broke down after devoting an all-nighter and still failing to fix the error in her program. But through these experiences, she learned to stand up and face failure with a new disposition. From then on, she knew she selected the right path.
“It’s so nerdy.”
One of her favorite classes in college was algorithms. “The thought that a bunch of 0’s and 1’s can make a screen come alive in a boundless number of ways just astounds me even until now.”
“What I love is how [CS] forces us to learn on our own.” She was once told by her adviser that the purpose of school is to train them about what matters so they can learn by themselves right after. She once joined a hackathon and was amazed by how much she learned in a day. “The experience gives you an extra confidence boost that you can really learn anything rapidly if you set your mind to it, no matter how intimidating it may be.”
Chiara at Google’s Women Techmakers Scholars Program in Singapore.
One of her memorable moments was flying to Singapore for the Google’s Women Techmakers Scholars Program. She applied for a scholarship and was selected as one of 73 Asian women-in-tech scholars! “There was a different kind of energy in that room that I never experienced in my life before, and it propelled me into ideating on my own projects for local women in tech now.”
Pursuing her career in STEM
Before she graduated last June, Chiara joined a leading food delivery team when they were mid-launch for her internship back in 2018. “No two days were the same with my crazy fun and intelligent team.” Her supportive manager also assigned her projects that enabled her to utilize coding and data analysis skills.
Afterwards, Chiara spent her senior year as head of Training, Research, and Development in Ateneo Consultants for Organization Development and Empowerment, where she led 10 officers in implementing training programs for new recruits and regular members. Working for a student-based organization that acts as organization development consultants for other youth orgs, Chiara found her duties a ‘far cry’ from CS work. “Not using all your extracurricular time that can help you in career is especially risky when you’re in such a specialized field as CS,” she said. However, her involvement “sharpened [her] critical thinking skills, shaped [her] leadership style, and forced [her] to learn how to learn” — ultimately molding her analysis and communication skills today.
Presently, Chiara works with a data science consultancy, a diverse team that aims to help organizations succeed by maximizing the potential of their data.
As a Woman in Tech
Although Chiara did not find aggression in the classroom, she realized the subtle ways that being a woman makes learning different. She was too shy to ask questions when lessons were difficult in the fear of appearing ‘stupid’. She was burdened by the irrational worry that if she found a lesson difficult, others would generalize her skills to other women as well – and that slowed her down. “Even now, there’s still a fear that I’m way behind my peers.”
“I get a lot of ‘you don’t look like you’re from CS,’ which I’m never really sure if those were meant as compliments or insults. What’s a CS student supposed to look like anyway?”
Future of Tech
Chiara aims to train herself as a data scientist or explore artificial intelligence. She believes that their potential is very high. These fields also sharpen one’s decision-making and provide solutions to human problems beyond our own comprehension. “The idealistic me sees that that’s where changing the world lies.”
Chiara also sees so many opportunities for tech in the Philippines. “I’d love to see more advancements in IoT (Internet of things) so that we can collect more data to make smarter real-time decisions.” She also hopes that people would focus more on this relevant tech innovation: Fintech, as the convenience that comes with cashless transactions should not be neglected.
To the women out there!
Chiara also shared some wisdom for women who are terrified to pursue a career in tech:
“Go for it, headfirst.” Although intimidation could be a hurdle, hesitation should not be entertained. “Explore, join hackathons, take online courses––do things that interest you!”
“Ask questions.” When one does not understand the lesson or is having difficulty catching up, asking should be the first go-to solution.
“Find others you can relate to.” One way Chiara found courage in pursuing her dreams was finding people to relate to: from classmates to teachers and even friends abroad! For her, having people by her side was a stepping stone in overcoming loneliness and intimidation.
Written by: Kelly Punzalan
Edited by: Lauren Fajardo, Cebo Cruz
Interviewed by: Bea Rondon
Despite rising numbers of women in animation, the industry is still heavily male-dominated, with only 23.2% of jobs in the field held by women according to Animation Career Review. Marla Rausch thankfully did not have to endure the less-than-ideal treatment that many women in the technology industry are used to. Throughout her career, people naturally had formed biases and misconceptions towards her based on traditional gender stereotypes, but with hard work and the unwavering support of her husband and children, Rausch gained their respect and built meaningful professional relationships.
Prior to becoming the CEO and president of Animation Vertigo, Marla Rausch obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication at the University of the Philippines – Diliman, majoring in Journalism, then ultimately worked as a motion capture tracker in the animation field. At the beginning of her career, clients often mistook her for a sales or marketing representative solely because of her sex. Rausch considers herself fortunate since this kind of assumption was the only form of discrimination she faced. She describes her experience as “relatively uneventful” compared to other women who have been harassed and bullied.
One of the challenges Rausch faced as an entrepreneur was handling a business with young children in the picture. Starting her company in the Philippines with her family residing in the United States separated her from her 2-year-old and 5-year-old for some period of time. This also meant frequently travelling from the Philippines to the U.S., not to mention the fact that she and her husband financed the company from the ground up. Instead of discouraging her, these obstacles pushed her even further to be a model of ambition and achievement for her children.
This go-getter attitude was inspired by Bernarditas de Castro-Muller, Rausch’s late grandmother and mentor. As a respected diplomat who had a hand in the negotiations for climate change in developing countries with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), de Castro-Muller was truly a force to be reckoned with.
“She was independent, strong-willed, stubborn – she didn’t conform to the traditional Asian woman stereotype even at a young age. She made me realize that I can make a difference and I can do it my way. She always had expectations from me and my cousins, and I’ve often felt the need to ensure to live up to them.”
Now a thriving business for nearly 15 years, Animation Vertigo works on motion capture animation and post-production for films, television, and video games. The company has clients from all over the world and has produced notable works such as Mortal Kombat X, Activision’s Call of Duty franchise, and Injustice: Gods Among Us. Rausch plans to take the company to the next level by becoming more involved in the growing animation industry here in the Philippines.
As a female CEO, Rausch makes it a point to advocate for women and gender equality in the workplace. At Animation Vertigo, they aim to promote a culture wherein one’s skills and strengths are valued, wherein quality of work and performance is given importance over gender biases.
Like Nike’s famous slogan, Rausch’s advice for girls who want to make it in the big and challenging world of tech is to just do it. Fear is something everyone experiences, but it shouldn’t be a reason to hold back.
“Don’t be afraid to fail because everyone does, take a moment to reflect on failure but get up and do it again. If you believe it hard enough and want something badly enough, nothing should be able to stop you. Find mentors, ask questions, don’t be afraid to learn, but do it.”
Written by: Anna Divinagracia
Interview by: Emmanuel Cruz