With the deadline for college applications in Ireland less than two weeks away, a new initiative in Cork is pressing for female inclusion in STEM.
‘I Wish’ is a partnership between Cork Chamber, it@cork, Cork City Council and Cork County Council, UCC and CIT to inspire and encourage young women to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
A common theme across the tech industry is an underpopulated female workforce, with many businesses struggling to address their internal gender imbalances due to simple numbers – far more males apply for these jobs than females.
When viewing the industry through this guise, looking back one more layer explains even more – far more male graduates emerge from STEM college courses than female.
Turning the tide
'I Wish' is looking to alter that scenario from a younger age, by getting young women to appreciate the opportunities around STEM subjects, and the employment environment in a country where tech is still booming.
“There is a huge variety of exciting careers in the STEM sector, and having heard many times, ‘I wish’ I knew more about the opportunities for women in the world of science and technology or engineering and math from female students, mothers and teachers, we decided to tackle the issue head on,” says Gillian Keating, Cork chamber president.
“So on the 12th February, throughout the city and county of Cork, there will be talks, demonstrations, interactive hubs where female secondary school students can meet, see and talk to inspiring women working in STEM roles across a huge variety of sectors.
“From start-ups to large multinationals, the I Wish events will really show students how they can have very fulfilling and interesting careers with STEM choices.”
County wide, for now
Students from all over the County can avail of the 'I Wish' events, which aim to include students from the entire Cork region.
Fota Wildlife Park will host the east Cork hub, with SWS Group hosting a west Cork hub in Clonakilty and CIT and EMC jointly hosting a city west region hub in Ballincollig, while Dairygold will host a North Cork hub.
From food science and nutrition, to technology and engineering, there will be extensive information and talks on careers for women in these fields.
Both Forfas and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs estimate that Irish Companies will have at least 44,500 ICT job openings in the next six years. However these simply won’t be filled by Irish candidates at the rate with which we are creating professionals. Thus, encouraging the under-represented 50pc of Irish society to get on board will be key.
Inspire 2015 is Silicon Republic’s international event running 18-19 June in Dublin that connects sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.
Women working in STEM image, via Shutterstock