Enrolling, Supporting and Graduating Women in STEM


“Today we are celebrating one of our proudest contributions to Vietnamese Higher Education … our support for Women in STEM,” opens Dr. Lopa Basu at the 6th Playbook Series forum of 2022. 

Celebrating the Women in Applied Projects, the final playbook in the series is culmination of all the prior work accomplished by BUILD-IT and the partner institutions filtered through the lens of Vietnam’s most neglected resource – women in the STEM fields. 

Dr. Basu continues by adding, “it is a pleasure to see first-hand the impact BUILD-IT programs have on the landscape of the continuing transformation of higher education in Vietnam. When USAID funds a project like BUILD-IT, it comes with considerable expectations. It is a collaboration.  An ambitious, paradigm-shifting project like BUILD-IT is expected to have an impact. It is expected to have excellence. It is expected to have significant reach.” It is clear that after engaging with the panelists, speakers and participants the Women in STEM form has significant impact and reach. 

The Women in STEM: Engaging in Applied Projects forum celebrates 8 years of collaboration with BUILD-IT’s partner universities. The audience, faculty, panelists and experts attended because they have either benefited from BUILD-IT’s efforts to promote the value and contributions of BUILD-IT’s efforts to support, highlight and celebrate Vietnamese women in STEM in Vietnamese universities, or wanted to hear from experts in academia and industry on how to promote women in STEM by designing for her needs, innovating for her success and building equitable opportunities. The forum did not disappoint. 


Their passion and desire to help transform higher education in Vietnam united all present, and energy created during the forum fosters the achievement of both individual group goals. The forum was truly a symbiotic relationship. The audience arrived ready to absorb best practices, skills and strategies for creating an environment where women in STEM field could thrive and the experts were eager to share. 
Hosted by Lac Hong Univeristy, a leading university in Ho Chi Minh City, audience members engaged in a panel of experts including Associate Professor, Dr. Dam Sao Mai Vice Rector, Industrial University of Ho Chi Minh City, Dr. Bui Thi Ngan, Deputy Director, Board of Project Management, Ha Noi University of Industry, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bui Hoai Thang, Head of Academic Affairs Office, Ho Chi Minh City of Technology. These three distinguished, along with the audience, explored strategies on how to enroll, support and graduate more women in STEM from institutions of higher learning in Vietnam. Discussions and probing by the panelists and audience also dissected strategies to engage more women and provide more opportunities for women to succeed in these fields. Panelists provide roadmaps for implementing support programs. This is embodied the “impact” and “reach” that Dr. Basu lauded in her opening remarks. 

However, this is only part of the story. Audience members were then presented a second panel discussing the role of female graduates of STEM programs in industry. Ms. Trinh Vo, Associate Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services Vietnam, Ms. Uyen Ho, Public Affairs Director, Intel Vietnam, Ms. Khanh-Thuyen Nguyen, Senior Recycling and Wastewater Manager, First Solar Vietnam, and Ms. Uyen Mai, Southeast Asia Sustainability Director, Dow all contributed to a fruitful and robust discussion. The experts addressed the realities and importance of having women on the team and how gender balance can improve performance, innovation, and creativity. They also explored, analyzed and evaluated policies and strategies encouraging and nurturing female talents. 

The impact of a forum of this nature cannot be underestimated. Previous forums in the Playbook Series focused on Digital Immersion, International Recognition and Accreditation, Master Teacher Training, EPICS program and Maker Innovation Spaces. These are all important topics to continue the impressive evolution of higher education in Vietnam. However, that continuation will be more difficult without the intentional inclusion of one of Vietnam’s most neglected resources –women.