Inspirefest: Kenny calls for end to gendering careers

Diversity celebrated at conference in Dublin on Thursday

“We don’t get inspired by surrounding ourselves with people who are the same as us,” said Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

“We don’t get inspired by surrounding ourselves with people who are the same as us,” said Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

 

There was no escape from the EU and Brexit, not even at science, technology design and the arts festival Inspirefest, which kicked off this morning in Dublin.

The event has a full card of speakers who will discuss everything from diversity in technology and the power of social media, to the fashion sector and the coming revolution brought about by the blockchain.

Speaking at the opening of the event, Taoiseach Enda Kenny reminded attendees of the EU’s motto - unity in diversity - and said diversity was essential for inspiration.

“We don’t get inspired by surrounding ourselves with people who are the same as us,” he said. “We are inspired by those who are different, who think differently, who have lived different lives, who have overcome different challenges.”

However, he noted that although almost 118,000 people work in STEM related jobs in Ireland, only a quarter are female, and in Europe that figure is less than 7 per cent.

“We need a cultural shift in mindset,” he said. “As those here today will be well aware, you do not have to be in a laboratory wearing a white coat to be a scientist or an innovator, nor do you have to paint on a canvas to be an artist. Science is everywhere and art can be made from anything.”

Mr Kenny acknowledged there was further work required in the education system to overcome societal issues and the gendering of certain careers.

He also noted the large number of women who were speaking at Inspirefest and in the audience, saying it sent an important signal about science and technology industries.

Festival organiser Ann O’Dea said diversity creates “richer and deeper” conversations.

“The point is not about numbers of male vs females on stage, it’s the richness of backgrounds and diversity leading to rich conversations,” she said.

About 1,200 people are attending the event, which also includes live entertainment in the evening with a Fringe festival.

The main programme takes place in the bord Gais Energy Theatre on June 30th and July 1st, with the Inspirefest Fringe continuing in the evenings and on Saturday, when the Family Fringe will open to the public.