As we celebrate every girl’s skills, capabilities, and dreams, we continue to bridge the STEM gender gap and provide platforms that could inform, inspire, and motivate young girls to pursue STEM. The lack of female role models, prevailing gender stereotypes, and the underrepresentation of women professionals in STEM discourage young Pinays to pursue the STEM track.
With only ¼ of our national scientists as females, and a declining number of female STEM graduates in the country, we put to spotlight notable Pinays and their breakthroughs in the field of STEM.
For our first Pinay of the Month, we feature Ea Tulin, a first year PhD student in Applied Biological Chemistry at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology. Her research is focused on investigating glycan formation in the central nervous system. She is also a faculty of the Department of Biotechnology in the Visayas State University.
Ea in the laboratory of Applied Biological Chemistry.
Growing up in Leyte province, Ea did not have many opportunities to be exposed to other Filipino scientists and programs. At a young age, she understood the reality that the media and private companies would invest more and prioritize Manila-based programs. It was only with her parents’ influence and support from high school and elementary teachers that she grew to love science. This also cultivated her fascination with medical research, biology, diseases, and the brain.
From falling in love with the word “molecular biology” to eventually pursuing biological chemistry in her doctoral degree, Ea shares with us her journey in STEM.
What made you decide to pursue science in particular?
Both my parents are scientists. My dad is a biochemist while my mom is a soil scientist. My first experiment was making antibacterial soap with my dad using flowers near my school for an elementary science fair. We won first place. It was definitely a way for me and my dad to bond and my mom was also very supportive, so it wasn’t hard to fall in love with the field. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved working in the lab and doing research. This, along with growing up with the influence of my parents within the (Visayas State) University are the reasons why I decided to pursue STEM.
Her first conference in Japan at the 37th Annual Meeting of the Japanese society of carbohydrate research.
Why do you think that confidence in STEM is important for our Pinays?
Confidence is important to give us a head start and visibility. I believe a lot of Filipino women are confident, yet they still seem to burn out. I think confidence combined with focus, grit, and kindness, are important and will help us move forward as Pinays in STEM. Collaboration is key, and in a field where everyone is smart, we stand-out by having a good attitude.
“Confidence combined with focus, grit, and kindness, are important and will help us move forward as Pinays in STEM
How can we get Pinay students interested in STEM while at home?
Social media is a good way to attract Pinay students! There are many pages that feature women from all over the world doing STEM: Pinoy Scientists (for Filipinos in STEM), Women Doing Science, Women Transforming Science, 1MWIS (1 million women in STEM), and similarly pages of women scientists talking about their lab lives online. Instagram was a great avenue for me to meet all these women (virtually) while at home!
How do you envision the future of women in STEM in the Philippines?
There is a lot of untapped potential in the Philippines and this can be harnessed with proper support from the government, collaboration between universities, and a joint effort between private companies and universities. This is the goal. With movements that push women to be empowered in STEM and Philippines being one of the highest in Asia when it comes to gender equality, I believe women in STEM will continue to rise in number, assume higher institutional positions, and be a key contributor to the realization of this goal.
Did you know that Ea is also an artist? She recently started a project called Experiments in Art (EA) where she showcases mouse brain pictures in creative ways by combining them with art. All the photos are taken from a microscope with the brain stained with different chemicals.
“If you feel like STEM is something you would like to pursue, go for it! Find a role model or be your own.” – Ea Tulin
Diversity broadens the pool of knowledge and expertise in STEM and other related fields. Past generations have worked towards creating platforms and increasing visibility for more women in STEM, and even until today, we strive to break barriers to encourage more young Pinays to pursue STEM tracks and careers.
Tune in as we continue to build a community of STEM Pinays. Next month, we feature STEM Pinays in the fields of mathematics, technology, astrophysics, and marine sciences.
Follow Ea on Instagram!