International Women’s Day, 8 March, sees the launch by Silicon Republic of ‘Women Invent Tomorrow’, a major year-long initiative that will highlight the importance of closing the gender gap in the science and technology-based industries, and will champion inspirational women as role models in the fields of STEM.
The global talent gap in the knowledge industries is well documented, and it is also recognised that women are vastly under-represented in the science and technology-based careers that will drive the industries of tomorrow and shape all our futures.
As Ireland’s leading news source in the areas of technology and innovation, we have felt for some time that we have a responsibility to tackle the gender issue on Siliconrepublic.com. In 2013, we will champion the role of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and maths, and highlight the importance of getting the gender balance right.
We’re delighted to say we have many male supporters already who know this is a challenge for society as a whole, not just for women.
Aim to make a difference
With the support of our founder partners, Intel, Accenture and the Irish Research Council, we’re hoping to really make a difference. They, like us, believe that we can create a better world by unleashing the vision, brains and creativity of women.
“Women Invent Tomorrow is a critical initiative which I support with great interest,” said Mark Ryan, country manager at Accenture. “Ireland, and especially our major technology companies, are battling a severe skills gap which must be addressed now in order to fuel economic growth and drive recovery. The statistics are stark on the diversity challenges in STEM subjects and industry must collaborate and share best practice to change this dynamic.
“I am delighted that Accenture will be part of Women Invent Tomorrow, and look forward to sharing the success of our own Accent on Women programme. I think the opportunity to shine a spotlight on female role models in technology will not only be a critical component of Women Invent Tomorrow but will hopefully inspire new women to the fast-paced and exciting world of science and technology.”
Brendan Cannon is EMEA co-ordinator of Intel’s Girls and Women initiative. He says there is a problem to be tackled here when it comes to the participation of young girls in maths and science subjects to higher-level Leaving Cert and beyond.
“The statistics across the European Union point to something like 6 to 7pc of technical careers being filled by women. If you think about the grand societal challenges, from climate change to food security to our demographics, with the solutions for those existing in the science and maths domain, for us to leave 50pc of the talent pool of Europe and Ireland behind means we just can’t get there. We have to encourage young girls to take these maths and science courses and participate in solving these problems in the future. That’s why we’re delighted to support this initiative.”
New perception required
Prof Orla Feely is chair of the Irish Research Council and a professor in the School of Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering at University College Dublin, and she, too, concurs that we need to change perceptions when it comes to the variety of careers with a science or technology base.
"The career opportunities in this sector are so vast and so exciting, it is a terrible shame to think that significant numbers of schoolgirls, based on what are often outdated or incorrect perceptions, could be closing themselves off to careers in this area," said Feely. "We hope that by working with the Silicon Republic team on this initiative, we can help shift those perceptions."
The World Economic Forum’s recent Corporate Gender Gap Report 2012 highlighted a lack of role models as one of the greatest barriers to women leaders.
We know there are remarkable female role models out there that tend to pass below the media radar. We want to bring them into the spotlight over the coming months.
Our content drive here on Siliconrepublic.com will be accompanied throughout the year by specially commissioned research on the gender balance in STEM in Ireland, a national outreach campaign and competition (the prize is something very special indeed) through press and radio, and grassroots initiatives and events – including a Girls that Code CoderDojo – so keep an eye on the site as we’ll be keeping you updated in coming weeks.
We are already getting lots of feedback, so bear with us if you don’t get an immediate response! We will consider all suggestions.