February 2024. In a world where scientific and technological advances are increasingly impacting people’s lives, women are playing an important role in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related careers in medical device and technology companies located in the Coyol Free Zone in Costa Rica.

This is the case of Silvia Arias, who currently works as Project Manager at Philips, a world leader in health technologies and development of medical devices, such as masks to treat sleep apnea, guide wires and catheters for cardiovascular procedures, and oxygenation and ventilation sensors for hospital monitoring.

In her position, she is part of a team of 10 employees in Costa Rica and the United States who work on improving current products, as well as developing new technologies and innovation to make them increasingly more efficient and with better quality for their customers around the world.

Arias assures that in Free Trade Zone companies there are many opportunities for growth. “In my 12-year professional career, I have had the opportunity to grow in different roles. I started as a quality technician and then I developed in areas such as quality and logistics, among others. Now I am the only Costa Rican in the Project Management group in the Research and Development area, which has a great financial impact for the company”, explained Arias.

Her passion for engineering began when she was a child, when her father took her to vehicle activities and she was passionate about how they made car modifications.

“I am an industrial engineer because I wanted to study something I liked and because I have always had the support of my family.”

Today, Silvia combines her professional career with her role as a mother and wife. In addition, she assures that although STEM careers are characterized to be traditionally filled by men, women can contribute in equal measure to the development of technology and science.

Arias is part of the 54% of the female human talent working in the 33 national and international companies in the industry that rely on Coyol Free Zone as their operations headquarters in Costa Rica.

Seven of these high-tech medical companies are among the top 30 Life Sciences companies in the world. This park provides 22,000 direct jobs and more than 3,000 indirect jobs.

Like Silvia, an increasing number of women are becoming interested in STEM fields. According to data from the State of the Nation (2023), the first entry enrollment record of STEM majors in public universities (Universidad de Costa Rica, Universidad Nacional, Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica and Universidad Técnica Nacional (UTN) went from 18 to 14 males for every 10 females in the last decade.

The report states that in 2021, 4,521 men and 3,294 women were enrolled. It also notes that between 2000 and 2020, the total number of new women professionals in Science and Technology (S&T) increased from 1,000 to about 5,000 women per year, so their share increased from 39.8% to 50.5% of the total number of higher education graduates.

About Coyol Free Zone

 Coyol Free Zone is the leading medical device export park in Costa Rica, with exports of over US$2 billion per year, which is equivalent to 30% of the exports of the manufacturing segment of the country’s Free Zone Regime.
Coyol Free Zone was designated as the Best Free Zone in the Americas, and as Industrial Champions of the Americas by fDI Intelligence in 2023.
It is also the Best Free Zone in Latin America and the Caribbean for the fourth consecutive year, the Most Innovative Free Zone of the Year, and the Best Business Center for Life Sciences and Advanced Manufacturing, according to The European magazine.