Call for women to be encouraged into careers in Stem areas

Cork conference told make-up of workforce in sector ought to resemble its customer base

People working in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) need to highlight the variety of careers available for women in the sectors and encourage them in every way possible, a business executive has said. Image: Thinkstock.

People working in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) need to highlight the variety of careers available for women in the sectors and encourage them in every way possible, a business executive has said. Image: Thinkstock.

 

People working in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) need to highlight the variety of careers available for women in the sectors and encourage them in every way possible, a business executive has said.

Niamh Townsend, general manager at Dell Ireland, said the company had always been keen to create a diverse workforce with differing perspectives and past experiences so as to enhance its ability to come up with solutions to help customers.

“We’ve always said that we want to make our workforce resemble our customer base so that the solutions we develop are of use to the many, not just the few,” she said. “That inclusive approach has been adopted by more and more technology companies, many of whom are actively hiring in Ireland. ”

Ms Townsend said people needed to work together to encourage female participation in the STEM areas and highlight the variety of jobs available.

“It’s not about fitting the mould or cohering to a stereotype of what someone who works in STEM might look like, but rather putting your own stamp on the position and bringing your ideas and individuality to bear,” she said.

Transition years

Ms Townsend was one of a numbers of speakers, including Irish Olympic gold medallist, Katie Taylor to address the second ‘I Wish Conference’ in Cork City Hall, which was attended by some 2,000 female transition year students from across the city and county.

The initiative was established in 2014 by three Cork businesswomen - Gillian Keating a partner with Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors; Caroline O’Driscoll a partner at KPMG and vice chair of it@Cork and Ruth Buckley, head of ICT and business services at Cork City Council.

Ms Keating said ‘I Wish’ was established to address the fact that women were under-represented in the STEM sector.

Ms O’Driscoll said they were particularly pleased to have Olympian Katie Taylor address the conference as she was an inspiration to many women after excelling in a field which had traditionally been dominated by men.

“‘I WISH’ was founded to inspire, encourage and motivate young women to consider careers in STEM where there are traditionally lower levels of female participation,” she said. “Students had the opportunity to hear first-hand from Katie about her own challenges, including tackling female stereotypes.”

The conference, opened by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, continues at Cork City Hall on Friday.