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A team of Taiwan Tech students won the first prize in the 2022 World Technology Universities Network (WTUN) Annual Student Competition on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year’s topic being “digital creativity”, the Taiwan Tech team built a matching platform for online tutors “EquaLearn” which helps female students in junior and senior high schools to pair up with female college students with a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) major. This project was praised for encouraging female students to study STEM subjects. The team will be invited to give a talk at the WTUN meeting in Thailand in November 2022.
The team was formed with students from different backgrounds, including Tariq Yousef Mahmoud Batat from Department of Electrical Engineering, Wang Xin-Yang from Department of Applied Foreign Languages and Darmawansah from Graduate Institute of Digital Learning and Education. As Professor Hung Shao-Ting, director of the Taiwan Tech Language Center, pointed out, they did not only design the platform, but they also interviewed many female college students to understand their life stories. They attempt to wipe out gender stereotypes and promote the values of equality, ambition, and introduce role models for female students.
On the platform, students and the tutors can be paired up by their interests. Tutors share their experience in college and lead them to explore more before stepping in the field. Students with low confidence in STEM might readdress the position of these subjects in their minds. As for the tutors, they can give back to society and fulfill their social practice credits.
Taiwan Tech team joined the WTUN student competition and designed a mentor matching platform to encourage female students to study STEM
Xin-Yang used to believe that female students in Taiwan are offered a good learning environment, and that they are motivated and successful. However, after she interviewed female students with STEM majors, she realized that they face a lot of obstacles on their learning journey. They always hear people saying, “this is a department for boys. It might not be a good fit for girls,” “jobs in this field are too hard for girls,” “girls are not as logical as boys.” They often received this kind of negative comments.
Tariq studies electrical engineering and observes gender inequality issues in class. For instance, professors might prefer calling male students to answer questions or carry some equipment. Female students might feel embarrassed when they encounter difficulties. Despite the inequality, there are many outstanding female scientists in the world. Therefore, Tariq hopes for more female students to enter the STEM field. He believes that this will be the best way to achieve equality.
Darmawansah is from Indonesia where it is much harder for female students to study STEM subjects. He is glad that the platform is aligned with his specialty, digital education, which could really become a tool for solving the problems caused by gender inequality.
Professor Hung Shao-Ting(left) formed a team with students from different departments, Darmawansah from Graduate Institute of Digital Learning and Education(second from the left), Wang Xin-Yang(second from the right) from Department of Applied Foreign Languages and Tariq Yousef Mahmoud Batat(right) from Department of Electrical Engineering.
The WTUN annual student competition focuses on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including affordable and clean energy, climate action, clean water and sanitation, sustainable cities and communities, and gender equality. Students form teams and seek solutions to the issues that are relevant for societies, and more important, try to find creative, technically, and economically viable solutions.