An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD received his first lesson in code from a 10-year-old girl and, in his opening address on the second day of Inspirefest, he noted the importance of fostering a passion for STEM in young women.
The second day of the inaugural Inspirefest 2015 sci-tech conference welcomed Ireland’s leader, Enda Kenny, TD to open proceedings.
He started off by commending the event for its unique take on the gender gap in science and technology by turning the typical male-female ratio seen at these conferences on its head.
“For Ireland to remain competitive and demonstrate real leadership in the STEM sectors, we must attract the best talent. By highlighting the extraordinary work being done by women in the STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] areas, Inspirefest and Silicon Republic have done a magnificent job in making sure that, by our choices, our policies and our priorities now, we break down barriers for future generations.”
The next generation of tech talent
Kenny has been directly influenced by at least one girl who is part of a future generation of coders. Lauren Boyle, EU Digital Girl of the Year 2014, launched last year’s Hour of Code with a coding lesson for An Taoiseach. Boyle was also on-stage on the opening day of Inspirefest, launching her newest venture: Cool STEAM Kids.
The impact of Boyle and the CoderDojo movement has not gone unnoticed by An Taoiseach as he relayed a story of when he asked a six-year-old at a dojo what it is they do and the child said, “I mentor my friends.”
“Our talent is not just the luck of the Irish,” said Kenny.
Targeted approach to gender balance
A research report released by Accenture in conjunction with Silicon Republic’s Women Invent campaign showed that, while 80pc of young women realise the potential of studying STEM subjects, almost half still see these as careers and subjects better suited to males.
However, Kenny was keen to highlight the increasing number of female students taking on these subjects at second and third level regardless of prevailing social attitudes.
“Fostering a growing passion for science and encouraging young people, especially young women, to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and maths is essential to future success,” he said.
“In terms of Ireland’s next generation, we’re taking a targeted approach to making sure we have the right skills and the right gender balance in these areas, and I’m pleased to see that the numbers of girls taking STEM subjects at second and third level are growing.”
Inspirefest 2015 is Silicon Republic’s international event running 18-20 June in Dublin, connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.