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Women in STEM

Women must play an equal role in our high-tech future


Marguerite Sayers

Executive Director for Customer Solutions, ESB

Almost all new advances in technology come from people with a STEM background. So, it’s important to make sure women are represented.

I am the ESB’s Executive Director for Customer Solutions, a role I took up in mid-May, having been with the company for 27 years now. In my new role I am the leader with responsibility for Electric Ireland, e-cars, telecoms, energy services businesses and encouraging the use of low-carbon technology in Ireland and the UK.

I have a passion for solving problems and making people’s lives better. Individual projects may seem little, but collectively they make a huge difference.

When I was at school I particularly enjoyed maths and physics. After attending an information evening held by Engineers Ireland, I was inspired to pursue a career in engineering. Everything I heard at that event I could relate to, because it was all about solving problems, which really appealed to me.

I studied for my degree in electrical engineering at University College Cork and when I left I joined ESB, where I discovered I enjoyed working both indoors and outdoors. I have worked in many different parts of the company, in everything from engineering to management and HR, and am now in a very customer-focussed role.

I have a passion for solving problems and making people’s lives better and while individual projects may be little things, collectively they make a huge difference in moving things on. That is where maths and physics make a difference in creating new products, services and solutions.

Most people don’t really know what engineers do

Most people don’t really know what engineers do and can be quite surprised when they figure out that engineers are involved in every part of what we take for granted on a daily basis to make our lives better. The roads we drive on, the buildings we live and work in, every appliance we depend upon, the phones we communicate with, the life-saving equipment doctors use to help people get well, and in the case of what we do at ESB – the energy to make all of that possible.

The world needs engineers for challenges in water provision, housing, food and energy.

The world needs many more engineers to develop the solutions needed to address the challenges of water provision, food production, housing, transport, communications, energy and health. Engineering as a career still struggles to attract young women, despite the fact that half the world are female.

In parallel with engineering degrees, we need more women participating in engineering apprenticeships. It might come as a surprise to know that the numbers of women now taking up apprenticeships is increasing. ESB and other companies in the engineering industry are actively trying to attract more female participation in their apprenticeship programmes.

It is really important to encourage young girls into pursuing STEM subjects, which will open up a world of opportunity for them in terms of career choices. I believe that knowing the difference engineering can make to our world will inspire more women to consider it and I believe the solutions we develop to the challenges facing humanity will be better for that.

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