It’s no secret that there’s a massive talent gap in the STEM sector. There are numerous ways we can close that gap, but one way may be simpler than others: encourage women to pursue STEM careers.
It’s a sad fact that so few young women seek careers in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM). This can be driven by lack of opportunities, lack of awareness or lack of encouragement.
The Dublin city chapter of the Professional Women’s Network (PWN) saw a large talent gap in the STEM sector, and a large group of people who could help to bridge that gap. They decided to bring the two together.
“Fundamentally, as a network, we wanted to advance and support the conversation of women in STEM, and we were really trying to think of how we could do that,” said Carina Furlong, president of PWN, Dublin city.
“We knew we wanted to do something big that would have impact, and we knew it all really started with education and awareness.”
PWN teamed up with Hays for College & Beyond, an event that aimed to demystify STEM for fourth, fifth and sixth-year female students. Speakers from Deloitte, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, ESB Networks and Deutsche Bank took to the stage to lift the veil on the four pillars of STEM.
It was hoped that the event would encourage many of them to apply to college STEM courses, and to turn that education into a career.
“Women are currently under-represented, in particular in the computing side and in engineering,” said Margie McCarthy, head of education at Science Foundation Ireland. “Actually hearing real-life stories from real-life engineers and real computer scientists, talking about the wide variety of jobs they work in, should help to open people’s eyes to explore the opportunities themselves.”
And open students’ eyes they did.
As part of the event, SurveyMonkey carried out two surveys to assess students’ interest in STEM careers: one before the event, and one after listening to the speakers.
Prior to the event, 32.3pc of students identified themselves as extremely likely to study STEM in college, but that number rose to 42.2pc as the event wound down.
Similarly, before the event began, 21.7pc of students said they were extremely likely to pursue a career in STEM, but that number climbed to 31.5pc as the day wore on.
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