According to the Higher Education Authority, the number of females taking up Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects and third level courses has declined significantly during the last decade.
In a bid to curb this decline, a new initiative called I Wish invited more than 1,000 female students in Cork to events across the region highlighting the exciting and rewarding careers in STEM.
The event, which was opened by the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD, was attended by leading STEM female role models from global organisations such as Google, Twitter, CoderDojo, Pfizer and PepsiCo as well as indigenous leaders across the business, research and academic fields including UCC, CIT and Science Foundation Ireland. The event was moderated by Cork-born medic and Channel 4 TV host, Pixie McKenna.
Speaking at the I Wish event, Minister O’Sullivan said: “Out of almost 118,000 people working in STEM in Ireland only a quarter are women. For many reasons, it is essential that all stakeholders including Government, educators and enterprise, aim to ensure that STEM education in Ireland fairly represented. I would like to congratulate all of those involved in the I Wish events that took place across the Cork region today; it is so important to stimulate curiosity and educate our students from the earliest years as to the possibilities of a career in STEM.”
The brainchild of a number of female business leaders in Cork, “I Wish” has been spearheaded by Gillian Keating, President of Cork Chamber, Caroline O’Driscoll, [email protected] Vice Chair and Ruth Buckley, Head of IT at Cork City Council, and supported by UCC, CIT and Cork County Council teams.
“There is a huge variety of exciting careers and opportunities for women in the STEM sector. I Wish is about being proactive, rather than reactive, to the STEM skills shortage. We are giving young girls the choice, and the chance, to make changes that could impact their future careers,” said Gillian Keating, Cork Chamber President.
“Today we had some of the most remarkable female role models from across the STEM sector in Cork talking, demonstrating and interacting with students, showing them how they can have very fulfilling and interesting careers with STEM choices,” she added.
Students across Cork attended the I Wish events, Fota Wildlife Park hosted the East Cork hub, SWS Group hosted a West Cork hub in Clonakilty, the CIT hub facilitated the City West region and Dairygold hosted a North Cork hub. From food science and nutrition, to technology and engineering, there was extensive information and talks on careers for women in these fields.
“Irish companies collectively will have an estimated 44,500 job openings for people with high-level information and communications technology (ICT) skills over the next six years. Industry will benefit enormously if more students take up careers in the STEM sector,” says Caroline O’Driscoll, Vice Chair of [email protected]
“The I Wish programme is about collaboration across education, industry and universities and colleges as well as business and support organisations, to grow the number of women in STEM,” she added.
I Wish is a partnership initiative between Cork Chamber, [email protected], Cork City Council and Cork County Council, UCC and CIT to inspire and encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM. For more information, please visit www.iwish.ie