Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton, T.D. officially launched I WISH 2017 today (Thursday) in Dublin. I WISH, a hugely successful partnership initiative encouraging young women to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), will spread nationwide in 2017 with events in Cork on 9 and 10 February 2017 and in Dublin on 13 and 14 February 2017.

Speaking at the launch Minister Bruton said: “STEM education is growing. New initiatives will continue to support greater participation and improved performance in STEM. The Government’s newly published Action Plan for Education outlines plans to increase the take-up of “gateway subjects” including Chemistry, Physics and ICT at senior level and the introduction of coding at primary level and Junior Cycle. I Wish play a vital role in the promotion of STEM to girls at a pivotal moment in their lives. I am delighted to be here today to officially launch I WISH 2017 and to encourage more girls to pursue a career in STEM.”

I WISH is an initiative that combines the power of industry, academia and the public sector in order to inspire and encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM. Set up in 2014 by 3 Cork businesswomen, Gillian Keating, Partner at Ronan Daly Jermyn, Ruth Buckley, Head of ICT & Business Services at Cork City Council and Caroline O’Driscoll, Partner at KPMG, this year the award-winning I WISH conference and exhibition is expanding nationally to engage with more than 4,000 secondary school girls with the purpose of encouraging and motivating them to pursue careers in STEM.

As part of their commitment to promoting STEM to young girls, the I Wish team conducted research on over 2,000 female TY students and their perceptions and attitudes towards STEM subject choices and careers. The survey, conducted by UCC, has informed a report presented to the Minister for Education & Skills Richard Bruton T.D. at the launch today.

Speaking at the launch, I Wish co-founder Gillian Keating said, “Earlier this year we surveyed 2,000 girls and 75% of them said that having a career that involved helping other people was important to them. What is interesting however is that these girls are not relating Physics and Chemistry in school to careers where they can do just that – only 16% of the girls intend to do physics. The world is facing incredible challenges in the next decade – over population, food shortages, urbanisation, ageing populations, climate change. We know that the answer to all of these problems lies in STEM. I Wish 2017 will explain to these girls how big the world’s problems are, we will put female role models centre stage to show them the real jobs in STEM that can help solve these problems and ultimately help people in a truly remarkable way.”

I WISH is an award-winning partnership between Cork City Council, Cork Chamber, [email protected], Cork County Council, Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, UCC, CIT, American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, Trinity College Dublin and Science Foundation Ireland. The event is also supported by RTE. The lead sponsors of the I Wish 2017 events is Dell, which is supporting the initiative for the second year running.

“We are thrilled to be back on board supporting I Wish again this year. As anchor sponsor in 2016, our team member volunteers saw first-hand the positive impact the event had on attendees. The students left the event hugely energised, with many thinking about their own future careers in a different light. It’s fantastic that Dublin is getting its own event this year, which will further broaden the reach of I Wish. We look forward to meeting students from across the country in February and telling them all about the world of options that the STEM subjects make possible, as well as emphasising the broad range of talents which have a home in the technology sector,” said Niamh Townsend, General Manager, Dell EMC Ireland.

The I WISH conference and exhibition will include talks, demonstrations and interactive hubs where students can meet and engage with inspiring women working in a variety of STEM roles. Students will also hear from female leaders from organisations such as Dell, Arup, PepsiCo, Google and Twitter to name a few. There will also be young female entrepreneurs from a variety of STEM backgrounds talking about their careers, as well as young women with careers in traditionally male-dominated areas such as engineering and maths.

Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Strategy and Communications in Science Foundation Ireland welcomed today’s launch saying; “As one of Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover-funded projects, I Wish aligns with the Smart Futures national programme, providing secondary school students in Ireland with access to information on STEM careers. STEM courses provide students with the essential flexible and analytical skills they will undoubtedly need to have fulfilling careers doing the jobs of the future. Ensuring we have a well-qualified future workforce is also critical to support the sustainable growth of Ireland’s economy. Connecting students with people working in various STEM jobs provides vital role models to encourage and inspire students to pursue their own STEM career paths.”

I Wish takes place in Cork City Hall on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 February and in the RDS Dublin on Monday 13 & Tuesday 14 February 2017. The events are free to attend and promise to benefit young women with hands-on practical information, talks and demonstrations by women in STEM roles. A full line-up of exciting national and international speakers will be announced in the coming weeks. To register, book now to avoid disappointment at www.iwish.ie

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