STEM education for women in Vietnam
At the beginning of 2016 in Vietnam, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Arizona State University created and implemented the Building University-Industry Learning and Development through Innovation and Technology (BUILD-IT) project.


BUILD-IT exercises the goal of connecting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) instruction in Vietnamese higher education institutions to students, who then can advance inclusive, technology-based growth. The project works mainly to promote STEM Education for women in Vietnam.

To increase educational innovation in STEM, BUILD-IT hosts semi-annual solutions councils and meetings to discuss problems and potential solutions. Additionally, the project funds innovation labs to develop ideas through technology. To assist in tracking educational innovation, the Higher Education Learning and Innovation Exchange acts as a database for all innovations.

One main priority of the initiative is to facilitate collaboration between universities and the private sector by providing students experiential opportunities in preparation for STEM careers. The project hosts leadership forums to develop academic initiatives, scholarships and networking opportunities for women in STEM.

Women in STEM Leadership Forum

The first leadership forum for the Women in STEM Leadership Program was held at the University of Danang in Vietnam in August 2016 and attracted over several hundred participants. The forum featured female role models, inspired the transfer of knowledge and established paths to entrepreneurship through STEM Education for women in Vietnam.

Katy Wigal, BUILD-IT project director and associate director for Curricular Innovation at Arizona State University, stated “the Forum enabled open discussions on the roles of women in the high demand professions of math, engineering, technology and science. The insights they (female speakers) offered about their personal journeys were inspiring to a new generation of women.”

The USAID Vietnam Mission Director Michael Green also said that “increasing opportunities for women in these fields are critically important in realizing greater economic success and equality for women across the board.”

Report on Women-Owned Enterprises in Vietnam

In a recent report of a market study on women-owned enterprises in Vietnam, the IFC Asia Manager for Financial Institutions Group Advisory Services, Rachel Freeman, concluded that social and traditional expectations can sustain prejudices against female business owners and, in particular, young women.

Businesses traditionally can involve women, but these prejudices can have negative impacts against women and their businesses. From STEM to the business field, social and traditional expectations can infiltrate all aspects of society in Vietnam.

Women in STEM: Sustainable Development

For sustainable development and participatory citizenship, STEM education is innovative and essential for every citizen, especially in regard to women. Women’s involvement in the STEM field benefits social engagement and domestic work in addition to sustaining technological innovation.

Vietnam has successfully increased enrollment rate of female students at the university level from 30 to 52 percent between the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 academic years. The STEM Education for Women in Vietnam initiative is one main priority of the BUILD-IT project because of the importance of inspiring women to modify the status quo and facilitate a global revolution.

– Andrea Quade

Photo: Wikimedia Commons