DIT is going down the mentorship route to address the ‘male-dominated engineering industry’, with two international heavyweights lending a hand.
When looking for parity among demographics, genders and races throughout different industries, 50pc is the ideal, but often, something close to that would be acceptable.
Were the number of women entering the actuarial workforce to represent 45pc, for example, not many would complain. However, should a figure of 25pc enter computer science, there is clear evidence that something’s quite wrong.
That’s why the number of women in the engineering workforce in the UK and Ireland, reaching a mere 9pc, should strike people as alarming.
Finding the reasons why is task one; addressing them, then, is task two.
Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) believes that mentoring women through university could prove an effective way to help shift the figures towards an equal ratio, recruiting Arup and Schneider Electric to help out on a new initiative.
The goal of the new programme is to provide female students with role models who can offer guidance about career opportunities in engineering, provide support and tools for navigating this male-dominated industry, and entice more young women into the field.
It will host events throughout the academic year, covering themes such as the building blocks for a successful career in engineering, the range of jobs available, soft skills and technical skills, and obstacles facing engineers.
“It’s important to provide that extra layer of support because there are so few women in engineering,” said Leslie Shoemaker, programme facilitator at the DIT College of Engineering and Built Environment.
“We want young female students to know that the STEM subjects are achievable subjects. Being a woman and being an engineer is absolutely possible.”
Considering that 40pc of DIT’s students are studying STEM subjects, the initiative should be welcomed.
“We all know, gender diversity and equality is no more an option but a business imperative,” said Mark Keogh, VP for partner and industry at Schneider Electric Ireland.
“At Schneider Electric, diversity is an integral part of our history, culture and identity. We want to create an inclusive culture, where all forms of diversity are seen as real value for the company.
Arup, for its part, will run additional events at its Ringsend Road base, giving students the opportunity to experience the everyday realities of working as an engineer.
“The gender gap in STEM, especially in engineering, is always too large, and addressing this problem will be a priority until it’s not,” added Sanchir Egan, design engineer at Arup.
“As a DIT graduate, I am very much looking forward to contributing to this programme as a mentor.”