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Women in STEM Q4 2020

Beat the gender stereotype, encourage more girls to become engineers

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Roseanne O’Leary

Team Leader, STEPS Engineering

As a career, engineering offers a chance to make a difference to people’s lives because they address society’s needs and problems.

Engineering impacts everyone. For example, engineers advance medical technologies which doctors use to treat patients, they improve travel which makes it more comfortable, faster and safer for us to get around and they develop communications so that we can keep in touch with people in any part of the world on a daily basis.  

Increasing the interest around engineering careers

There is potential to promote understanding and improve the level of interest in engineering careers among girls. Raising awareness of the issue is not enough, we need to take action to inspire all young people, male and female to consider engineering as their future career and we need to work together to change the perception and bust the myths. Gender should not play a role in career choices.

1.Encourage all girls to explore engineering

Any girl who enjoys STEM subjects should be encouraged to explore engineering. Our STEPS Engineering Your Future programme gives Transition Year students a hands-on, fun and practical insight into engineering at third level and as a career. We encourage equal opportunities for all.

Gender should not play a role in career choices.

2. Show girls what engineering really is

Over the next 10 years, the in-demand engineering skills will be communication, management, digitalisation and sustainability. Non-academic skills are essential components of engineering careers.

3.Celebrate engineering

STEPS Engineers Week will take place virtually from Saturday, 27 February – Friday, 5 March 2021. A host of hands-on activities and interactive events will be available to inspire young people. Their teachers can get involved and organise activities for girls and open their eyes to the creative opportunities available in engineering.

4.Give access to role models

As part of Engineers Week, we are calling on organisations to adopt a school during that week and be role model. Exposure to female employees currently working in engineering is a good way to inspire girls and get rid of out-dated, gender stereotypical pictures.

Ireland ranks 34th of 36 OECD countries for gender balance among engineering graduates. One event or one stakeholder is not enough to bridge the gender gap. If we want real change, more effort needs to be made to make it accessible to all.

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