Professor Orla Feely
President, Engineers Ireland
Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills are vital for a green and digital future for Ireland.
In an era of digitalisation and climate action, a wide range of technical skills, in addition to the combined mind power of women and men is required to deliver sustainable and creative solutions for society.
However, the Government’s National Skills Bulletin recognises shortages in almost all engineering occupations. The number of students taking up engineering and technology courses needs to increase significantly to meet current and future needs.
These talent shortages, coupled with a significant gender gap in the engineering profession, require intervention.
Engineering our future society
At Engineers Ireland, we are continually seeking to address the gender divide at a grassroots and professional level.
Through peer-to-peer mentoring or involvement in primary or secondary school outreach initiatives, engineers and educators can support our mission to narrow the gender gap and address talent shortages.
Our Women in Engineering Group has created a network to facilitate connections between women working in engineering roles, to share knowledge, exchange ideas and boost the number of women working in the engineering profession. This group has been created to help female engineers create a clear pathway for progression, so they remain in the industry, as well as attracting women back to the profession.
If students can hear about the lives and stories of successful female engineers, they are more likely to explore the rewarding careers the profession can offer.
To increase representation of women in industry, we need more professional engineers to become role models for our future female talent. If students can hear about the lives and stories of successful female engineers, they are more likely to explore the rewarding careers the profession can offer.
We encourage engineers to volunteer and support Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme, the only national STEM outreach programme with a focus on engineering. Primary and secondary school educators are also invited to participate in STEPS Engineers Week (5-11 March 2022).
This campaign is held annually to promote engineering and its importance to Ireland. Through participation in the week-long campaign, young people can experience the limitless opportunities a career in engineering can offer and find out how they can play a pivotal role in transforming Irish society.
Working together to affect change
I believe that we are at our strongest when we address matters as a community. I encourage engineers, educators and employers to join with us and become allies in the drive to address talent shortages and close the gender gap in industry.