Lero director calls for early intervention in tech gender gap

5 Aug 2015

Early teaching of mathematics and technology is essential in order to address the gender gap in the tech industry, according to Prof Mike Hinchey, director of Lero.

Prof Hinchey attributed that gender gap largely to the perception of technology roles as “geeky, anti-social, overly masculine [and] nerdy”.

He also cited recent US research, which indicates that the gender gap may not exist as a result of women underestimating their abilities, as previously thought, but rather as a result of men overestimating theirs.

Understanding why the gender gap exists, however, is not the same as solving it.

Prof Hinchey said he believes that must start in schools:

“At a time when the European Commission has warned that there could be a digital skills gap resulting in up to 825,000 vacancies in Europe by 2020, girls need to be encouraged and STEM subjects made more relevant if the technology sector is not to continue to lose this vital talent pool at an early age.”

Lero has been running computing summer camps aimed specifically at teenage girls.

According to Prof Hinchey, these camps have shown that, when technology is made relevant and interesting, girls are just as enthusiastic about it as boys are.

He believes, therefore, that making technology education in schools more relevant and interesting could ensure that girls maintain an interest in it into their adult lives.

Prof Hinchey made this assertion at the publication of the organisation’s annual report, which states that Lero enjoyed many successes during 2014, following its selection as one of five new Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centres in Ireland.

Lero’s status as a research centre that brings together Ireland’s top software research talent “can only help to enhance Ireland’s reputation as a key global centre for the establishment of multinational and indigenous software companies”, added Prof Hinchey.

Main image, via Shutterstock

Kirsty Tobin
By Kirsty Tobin

Kirsty Tobin served as careers editor of Silicon Republic from 2015 up to August 2017. When she was younger, she had a dream where she started and won a fight with a T-Rex, so she’s pretty sure she kicked butt at this, too. Passions include eating all the cake, watching more TV than is healthy and sassy comebacks.

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