By Filane Mikee Cervantes

(Contributed photo courtesy of Ofelia Samar-Sy)

MANILA – On the first day of Women’s Month, a House leader on Friday said sustaining and improving higher education subsidies for college students can narrow the gender gap in employment.

Citing data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Bohol 3rd District Rep. Kristine Alexie Tutor said the gender gap in wages is narrowest among women who are college graduates at 12 percent and for those with college education at 23 percent.

Tutor said in order to narrow the gender gaps, the government should sustain the Tertiary Education Subsidy for students in local colleges and universities and private colleges and universities, the Unified Student Financial Assistance System (UniFAST) education programs, and free college education in state universities and colleges.

“These higher education subsidies can keep more female college students in school to improve their employability and benefit households that are low-income, near-poor, and lower-middle-income,” the House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation chairperson said in a statement.

She also pointed out that the hiring gap in the construction sector can be narrowed for women by increasing the number of positions available to them, particularly in technical, administrative, and support roles where physical strength should be “much less of a factor.”

She said the Department of Labor and Employment – Bureau of Working Conditions should look into how gender biases in the hiring and retention practices in the construction sector can be minimized.

“Workplaces in the construction sector should be safe spaces for women, as well as for the LGBTQIA+, to encourage gender diversity,” she said.

She also suggested that the Professional Regulation Commission and the different regulatory boards should spend the bulk of Gender and Development (GAD) funds on improving the numbers of women in every profession.

“There remains much room for improvement in the numbers of women among civil engineers, electrical engineers, electronics engineers, master electricians, master plumbers, industrial engineers, sanitary engineers, and electronics technicians,” she said.

For the Commission on Higher Education and the state universities and colleges, she recommended spending their GAD funds on how to incentivize and encourage more women to enroll in engineering, legal education, public administration, and science programs. (PNA)