Just 16% of engineering graduates are women, with the overall ratio currently just one woman to eight men in the engineering profession, a new Engineers Ireland report has revealed.

Launched to mark Engineers Week 2018 which runs until March 2, Engineering 2018 highlighted that very few engineering employers have been specifically targeting the recruitment of female talent, which has the potential to help overcome the engineering skills shortage that is still hampering industry in Ireland, according to the report.

Speaking at the launch of the new Engineering 2018 report, Engineers Ireland Director General, Caroline Spillane, said one of the biggest challenges facing the profession continues to be bridging the gender gap.

“With just 12% of engineering professionals in Ireland currently female, women very much remain an untapped resource in the sector.  Most of society’s biggest challenges will require interdisciplinary solutions and the combined mind-power of women and men working together.  It is very much in the engineering profession’s interests that we better bridge this gender gap to harness the abundance of skills that are now the hallmark of our female graduates.

“In education, there have been some very positive developments in this regard in the Junior Certificate,” continued Ms Spillane, “where last year the majority of those taking higher-level science and mathematics were girls.  There have also been encouragingly similar trends in the Leaving Certificate, so the challenge now for the entire profession and for engineering education nationally, from primary to third level, is building on this to convert girls’ burgeoning interest in STEM subjects into more women engineering professionals – which is what the country badly needs to sustain economic recovery.”

The Engineering 2018 report also showed that total higher-level STEM subject sittings by female students for the Junior Certificate have now increased to 41%, and to 43% for the Leaving Certificate.

“Engineers Week is very much focused on celebrating the world of engineering in Ireland – and a key emphasis this year is on encouraging young girls to think positively about engineering and to explore the abundance of diverse possibilities a career in the area can offer,” added Ms Spillane.

As part of an encouraging upward trend overall, the report also showed that the total number of STEM sittings atJunior Certificate higher-level has increased by 16% over the past five years, with a huge 25% increase in the number of students taking higher-level Junior Certificate mathematics since 2012. The positive student sentiment towards STEM-related subjects was also reflected in the Leaving Certificate, with the number of students sitting exams in STEM subjects increasing by 5% in the past year, and the number of students studying higher-level mathematics at Leaving Certificate doubling since 2011.

The Engineering 2018 launch at Engineers Ireland offices, as part of Engineers Week 2018, also included a panel discussion involving Tracy Keevans, Global Foreign Direct Investment Director at Morgan McKinley, Dave O’Connor, Director of Engineering at Google, Keith Greville, Associate Director at Arup and Professor Brian MacCraith, President of Dublin City University and Chair of the STEM Education Review Group.  In addition to the gender gap in engineering, topics covered included the importance of STEM subjects to society, the skills needs of indigenous industry and multinational companies in Ireland, engineering innovation and the future of the sector nationally and internationally.

The first in a new annual series, Engineering 2018 is a new barometer report developed by Engineers Ireland for the engineering profession in Ireland, capturing trends in engineering employment, perspectives and education.  The report this year was based primarily on three surveys conducted between October 2017 and February 2018 with qualified engineers, engineering employers and the general public.  These findings were complemented by Engineers Ireland analysis of data collected by key government agencies and public-sector bodies, including the CSO, the HEA, the State Examination Commission and SOLAS.

Engineers Week is coordinated by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme and funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover programme Call. The annual campaign aims to promote engineering as a career choice and the importance of the profession to Ireland. Engineers Week 2018 features over 780 events nationwide involving 75,000 participants and runs until March 2.

To access the Engineering 2018 report in full, visit www.engineersireland.ie

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