Home » Women in STEM » Inspiring Ireland’s future engineering talent
Women in STEM Q4 2020

Inspiring Ireland’s future engineering talent

Image provided by Engineers Ireland

Caroline Spillane

Director General, Engineers Ireland

Engineers are uniquely placed to help the world meet critical goals, including ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all. 

At Engineers Ireland, we recognise our future engineering innovators who aspire to solve global issues may not even be in the engineering field yet. They may be just starting out their education journey in our primary and secondary schools.  

As an advocate for STEM education, we want to aspire to encourage more students, particularly females, to pursue engineering at third-level so that they too can be equipped to innovate and respond to societal needs both in Ireland and overseas in the future. 

Bridging the gender gap  

Engineers Ireland’s ‘Engineering 2020: A barometer of the profession in Ireland’ report has highlighted that Ireland ranks third last of 36 OECD countries in terms of gender balance among engineering graduates.  

However, there have been a number of positive developments, such as girls now making up the majority of students who sit Junior Certificate higher-level papers in both science and mathematics.  

Gender imbalance needs to be tackled to ensure specific creativity and innovation skills shown by women are harnessed. The Government’s STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026 aims to increase by 40% the number of girls taking STEM subjects. The drive to bridge this gender gap and achieve this target must be a joint government, industry and academic effort.

The Government’s STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026 aims to increase by 40% the number of girls taking STEM subjects.

Engineering the future 

  • Engineers Ireland’s Diversity Group plays an important role in bridging the gender gap and focuses on females within the sector; attracting female students into engineering courses, the retention of women in the profession and encouraging qualified female engineers to return to the engineering workforce. 

Through our STEPS Programme, we have also developed a number of hands-on workshops and programmes that aim to spark children’s imaginations about engineering. The STEPS programme has four key initiatives, aimed at primary and secondary school children: 

  • STEPS Engineers Week, promotes engineering as a career choice and the importance of the profession to Ireland, taking place from 27 February – 5 March 2021. 
  • STEPS Young Engineers Award, a competition for 3rd and 4th class pupils to find Ireland’s next generation of engineering talent.  
  • STEPS Engineering Your Future Programme, providing Transition Year Students with an immersive experience among engineering academia and industry.  
  • Engineering Girl Guides and Brownie Badges, an initiative developed with the Irish Girl Guides. 

We all must play our part in building further awareness and interest in STEM, and particularly engineering, as a creative and diverse career choice.  

For more information on Engineers Ireland’s initiatives and to get involved, visit: www.engineersireland.ie 

Next article