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A government push for more women in STEM-related careers

Frances Fitzgerald TD stem-related careers

Frances Fitzgerald TD

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation

STEM graduates can find solutions to our most pressing global problems. Innovation needs equal female representation to continue. Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald TD speaks about increasing female participation in STEM-related careers

“Globally, we are facing multiple challenges; sustainable energy and food, climate change, access to clean water and better healthcare for all. Many of the solutions will be found within science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Yet, we are still struggling to fill STEM-related careers

“In Ireland, approximately 26 per cent of our graduates come from STEM. This is higher than in the US, Japan and the UK. But sadly women make up just a quarter of those employed in STEM-related careers here. This gender imbalance doesn’t just represent a loss of productivity to the economy. Given women make up almost 50 per cent of the Irish workforce, it represents a loss to our potential innovation.

Woman make up 50% of Ireland’s workforce, but only 25% of the STEM industry.

STEM-related careers backed by government

“Increased economic participation of women is a core objective of Government policy. Innovation 2020, is the government’s strategy for Ireland to become a Global Innovation Leader. It sets out that to achieve excellence, talent and impact in research and development, we need equal female participation.

Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) ‘Agenda 2020’ target for 25 per cent of research grant-award portfolio’s held by female researchers was reached in 2016, and this target has been increased to 30 per cent for 2020. The SFI Gender Strategy sets out a roadmap to reach this. These also include support mechanisms to help women stay in research over the duration of their careers.

We should also inspire female students from primary school, through to PhD and post-doc.

“The extension of the Athena Swan Awards in Ireland, as supported by Irish Higher Education Institutes and research funding agencies, further achieves an internationally recognised ‘quality mark’ for gender equality.

“We must make students aware of the attractive, diverse jobs available within STEM-related careers: pharmaceuticals, medical devices, ICT and agri-food. Equally, we need them to help us shape the future of our research-driven economy. Similarly, to bring their innovation, their creativity, and their talent to the fore.

STEM-related career promotion

“SFI’s education and public engagement initiatives aim to increase the participation of girls in STEM-related activities. SFI’s Smart Futures programme. promotes STEM-related careers in Ireland to young people. It currently has over 200 supporting partners across industry and academia. Partner groups include iWish and Connecting Women in Technology (CWIT). These provide students with opportunities to interact with female STEM professionals and gain career insights.

“As Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, I believe in the ability of STEM to effect positive change in the world. Similarly to be a key driver of Ireland’s economy. Also we are committing to funding the very best in science education and public outreach in Ireland. Finally, we want to make STEM accessible to all.”

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