Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley (FP)

Policy-makers in Barbados are concerned about the low numbers of women involved in the areas of science and technology.

While addressing a Rally at Springer Memorial School last Saturday night to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, said the time had come for more women to be trained as programmers, graphic artists, technical support specialists and network administrators.

Mr. Lashley observed that technology had overtaken almost every aspect of our lives and suggested that teachers, who were mostly women, must keep pace with the changes in its use.

He acknowledged that there had been a significant increase in the number of female managers in the public sector, but lamented that the trend had not been duplicated in the private sector.

"In preparing Barbados’ current report on the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, statistics showed that the number of women in decision-making positions in private enterprises does not favourably compare with the number of women achieving degree qualifications. There has also been an increase of 60.9 per cent in the number of women in professional occupations overall between the years 2000 and 2009," he disclosed.

The Family Minister further stated that although educational opportunities for women had increased, this access to education did not always translate into improvement in their social status, since records indicated that the highest rate of unemployment was found among women.

However, Mr. Lashley pointed out that an increasing number of women had been pursuing courses in non-traditional areas, which were dominated by men and he listed them as including tiling, electrical installation, plumbing, bobcat driving, masonry and carpentry.

During the night, Sybil Leacock and Undene Whittaker were rewarded for their outstanding work in the field of education. Mrs. Leacock is the owner of Leacock’s Private School in St. Peter, while Ms. Whittaker has been an educator for over 30 years.

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