Engineering still struggling with gender gap

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28 February 2018 | 0

A report from Engineers Ireland has found that only 12% of engineering professionals are women.

“Engineering 2018” has highlighted the fact that very few engineering employers have been specifically targeting the recruitment of female talent, despite its potential to help in overcoming the engineering skills shortage that hampers the industry in Ireland.

The report was launched to as part of Engineers’ Week, running until 2 March. Speaking at the launch of the new report, Engineers Ireland director general, Caroline Spillane, said one of the biggest challenges facing the profession continues to be bridging the gender gap.

“Engineers Week is focused on celebrating the world of engineering in Ireland, with a key emphasis on encouraging girls to think positively about engineering and explore the diverse possibilities a career in the area can offer”

“With just 12% of engineering professionals in Ireland currently female, women very much remain an untapped resource in the sector. Most of society’s biggest challenges will require interdisciplinary solutions and the combined mind-power of women and men working together. It is very much in the engineering profession’s interests that we better bridge this gender gap to harness the abundance of skills that are now the hallmark of our female graduates,” said Spillane.

“In education, there have been some very positive developments in this regard in the Junior Certificate, where last year the majority of those taking higher-level science and mathematics were girls. There have also been encouragingly similar trends in the Leaving Certificate, so the challenge now for the entire profession and for engineering education nationally, from primary to third level, is building on this to convert girls’ burgeoning interest in STEM subjects into more women engineering professionals — which is what the country badly needs to sustain economic recovery.”

Spillane said that Engineers Week is focused on celebrating the world of engineering in Ireland, with a key emphasis on encouraging girls to think positively about engineering and explore the diverse possibilities a career in the area can offer.

As part of an encouraging upwards trend overall, the report also showed the total number of STEM sittings at Junior Certificate higher-level has increased by 16% over the past five years, with a 25% increase in the number of students taking higher-level Junior Certificate mathematics since 2012.

The positive student sentiment towards STEM-related subjects was also reflected in the Leaving Certificate, with the number of students sitting exams in STEM subjects increasing by 5% in the past year, and the number of students studying higher-level mathematics at Leaving Certificate doubling since 2011.

Engineers Week is coordinated by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme and funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover programme Call. The annual campaign aims to promote engineering as a career choice and the importance of the profession to Ireland.  Engineers Week 2018 features more than 780 events nationwide, involving 75,000 participants.

 

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