STEM related fields are generally seen as ‘masculine’ fields. This belief takes its roots from the high school level where girls are noticed to be more fluent in arts, languages or social sciences; whereas subjects like mathematics and physics are seen as something at which only boys can excel at. At the graduate level, this gender gap becomes more obvious. In the branches of engineering, for instance mechanical or electrical, there are very few girls who enroll, and the grand majority opts for business, arts or economics.
Maternity laws for working women have been recognized since 1958 in Pakistan but these laws became part of the provincial domain after the 18th Amendment in the constitution. As a federal law, working women are allowed a period of six weeks pre- and post-natal paid leave. They are also protected against job dismissal during this period and are provided benefits for covering the cost of child delivery. Recently, the provinces have also taken this issue seriously and in maintaining the essence of the federal law, essential legislation has been provided. The problem, however, is the implementation of this law. Various commercial and industrial firms deny women the legally protected benefits to which they are entitled. Women need to be made aware of such laws in order to make them less likely to give up their engineering and scientific skills on account of motherhood.
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