Accenture to host DCU teaching students for summer internships

Accenture, DCU STEM
Picture: Amy Bennett; Paula Neary, Accenture; Clodagh Finnegan; and Prof Brian MacCraith, DCU

Three-month programme aims to overturn STEM stereotypes

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1 June 2016 | 0

Accenture has announced a new, three-month pilot internship programme, which will see five third year of BSc in Science Education students from DCU take up positions at the company, including its Centre for Innovation.

The first of its kind programme was developed in partnership with the 30% Club will focus on how science subjects can be promoted to female students.

In 2013 and 2015 Accenture carried out research and produced reports on attracting more females into STEM which showed that while the vast majority of girls appreciate that STEM subjects create a lot of career opportunities, stereotypes persist and a high proportion of females believe that the subjects are too difficult and better suited to males.

Teachers were identified as key influencers on students’ subject choices yet three quarters of teachers surveyed do not consider themselves influential. Over half of teachers in the 2013 study used the words ‘average,’ ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ to describe the overall level of information available on STEM-related career opportunities.

Paula Neary, a managing director in Accenture and sponsor of the STEM programme, said: “Our research findings were stark and the position has not changed since we first conducted this research in 2013.  The reports highlight the challenge that exists in trying to equip teachers with the knowledge to inform younger females of the opportunities presented by a STEM career.

“As Ireland continues to position itself as the epicentre of the world’s digital economy, we need to future proof the talent pipeline so that half the population is not excluded from the opportunities that STEM presents and to this end, industry has a role to play. The objective of this programme is to provide teachers with hands-on industry experience in the sector so that they’re better positioned to provide guidance, encouragement and bring their experience to life in the classroom.”

DCU President Prof Brian MacCraith said: “At our new Institute of Education, DCU student teachers engage with educators who are at the cutting edge of knowledge and practice in 21st Century education, particularly in the area of STEM education. Our students, the educators of tomorrow, will have a key role to play in sparking and encouraging interest in STEM subjects, particularly amongst young female students. ”

Brid Horan of the 30% Club welcomed the initiative. “The narrative around the skills shortage in the STEM sectors is well known at this stage and the 30% Club is actively involved in a range of initiatives to address  gender stereotyping within these industries. We are also working in collaboration with DCU in a variety of ways to help target these issues at an early stage by intervening at University level,” she said.

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