Robotics and breaking gender barriers in technology

The changing world of work due to technological advances provided opportunity to two best friends in web development and robotic automation.

Feature | Manila, Philippines | 29 February 2024
The ILO #WomenCanDoIT scholarships offered a pathway to Honey for a career in STEM. © ILO
Best friends Jeliza and Honey were riding a bus from work. A Facebook post about a free scholarship caught their attention. Tired from doing the same tasks and routines, Jeliza and Honey seized the opportunity. Both of them dropped out of college, making it a challenge to find decent work.

The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) #WomenCanDoIT Scholarship opened new doors to Jeliza and Honey. The latter claimed to having no background in IT, simply the desire to learn new skills. Their careers in technology have taken off in robotic process automation and web development as they break barriers in a fast-changing world of work.

“We should stop the preconceived notion that IT or any technology related career is for guys only. Every woman should take advantage of the opportunity,” Honey says.

Technological advances rapidly transform jobs, and the skills workers need. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that over 18 million jobs are at risk of automation. Women are mostly in jobs with low skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). They are 140 per cent more likely than men to lose their job.

“We must invest in skills development and lifelong learning as societies, economies and jobs evolve. Core skills must be promoted for successful transitions to and within the labour market. STEM skills help stay agile and competitive in the workplace,” said Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

Jeliza and Honey were among the women trained in web development. After the training, their big breaks came when they both received paid internships in a global IT service and data analytics company. Later, they were hired as robotic process automation developers. One of their major projects was developing a robot to automate manual processes.

Jeliza is thankful that she chose to shift to a career in technology © ILO

“It was very helpful for me that my best friend was with me from the time we applied to the scholarship to the time we got hired. We were the first all-woman class in web development at our school and having other women support you in this learning helps in boosting the confidence in this industry where there are more men working,” Honey explains.

Jeliza also pursued a career path in technology from web coding to getting certified in robotic process automation development. “I hope more women will take the chance to explore technology as I have. You are always learning and creating new things with technology,” Jeliza adds.

Over 1,077 women, including Jeliza and Honey received training in web development, contact centre software programming, game development, organic farming and baking. The ILO and the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) collaborated on the scholarship, which was supported by J.P. Morgan through the Women in STEM Programme.