Country Executive, 30% Club Ireland
Every sector in Irish industry is now dependent on technology to deliver their business model. The greatest learning from the recent pandemic is that technology, local or global, helps businesses to survive.
We still see a reluctance to take on science and technology subjects at school, particularly among girls.
At Junior Cert level, the ratio of boys to girls taking science is 50:50. However, girls still tend to make different follow-on choices.
For example, in the Leaving Certificate in 2019, for every nine girls that took biology, only one girl took physics.
How do we look forward?
If we continue to focus on demand and bemoan the fact that there are many tech jobs that we cannot fill, we reinforce the stereotype that jobs in STEM are unique, different, too challenging or too far from the grasp of many students.
Instead, we make more progress when we, as the business community, work together to increase the supply of young people qualified in STEM.
When we focus efforts on educating the next generation on the range of STEM related roles that exist in every sector we demystify the stereotypes and instead show they are part of every business and have potential for many more students.
By collaborating across industry, we can also support interventions in a more efficient way.
The greatest learning from the recent pandemic is that technology, local or global, helps businesses to survive.
Helping teachers to inspire girls into STEM
One great example is the Dublin City University STEM Teacher Internship Programme. STEM trainee teachers gain experience of roles and careers in a work environment, that can enhance their teaching practice and their guidance with students on subject choices and subject understanding.
More than 20 Irish companies representing every sector of Irish business, have collaborated on this programme, driving a greater pipeline for future talent.
Where does this bring us?
Ultimately, we must reposition the language associated with tech careers to diminish some of the stereotypes.
In the future, taking gender as just one part of the inclusion conversation, we will no longer talk about achieving better gender balance in tech, but continue our focus on better balance in all aspects of business – including those with STEM skills and capabilities.
About the 30% Club Ireland