Recent engineering graduate data shows that a mere 13 per cent of engineering graduates and four per cent of engineering apprentices are female, while more than of half of Engineers Ireland members believe that outdated attitudes - among women and men - are still obstacles to women entering the engineering sector.
Taking place from February 29 to March 6, Engineers Week promotes engineering and the importance of the profession to children in Ireland and is coordinated by Engineers Ireland's STEPS programme - funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills and industry leaders ARUP, ESB, Intel and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
Growing interest in STEM among young women
Recently in Explorium, Dublin, as part of Engineers Ireland’s ‘call to action’ for industry involvement during Engineers Week 2020, Fionnghuala O’Reilly, Miss Universe Ireland and NASA Datanaut, added the title of Engineers Week 2020 Ambassador to her list of credentials.
“There is a growing interest in STEM among young women, but as detailed in our Engineering 2019 report, men still greatly outnumber women at each stage of engineering higher education and apprenticeships," said Caroline Spillane, director general of Engineers Ireland.
"A survey of Engineers Ireland members has also found that more than half believed that outdated attitudes, among both women and men generally, are still obstacles to women entering the engineering sector.
“Now more than ever, it is incredibly important for policymakers, parents and us all in industry, to play our part in building further awareness and interest in STEM, and particularly engineering, as a creative and diverse profession among female students to overcome the gender divide.”
“Contact with engineers is an influential factor for young people, and visibility of female role models is especially important for young girls,” said Marguerite Sayers, president of Engineers Ireland.
“By bringing students face-to-face with engineering role models and showcasing their achievements and impact they make in society we can send a clear message that a career in engineering offers all young people, regardless of gender, the opportunity to engineer the Ireland of tomorrow and have a real impact on the lives of those around them.
'Tackle outdated stereotypes'
"Only by working together can we tackle outdated stereotypes that prevent young people from seeing a future for themselves in this rewarding profession.”
Recently in Explorium, as part of Engineers Ireland’s ‘call to action’ Fionnghuala O’Reilly, Miss Universe Ireland and NASA Datanaut, added the title of Engineers Week 2020 Ambassador to her list of credentials.
The systems engineer and George Washington University graduate said: “As an Engineers Week Ambassador and role model, I want to empower and support young women to explore the limitless opportunities a career in engineering offers.
"As a woman of colour working in the technology industry, I look forward to collaborating with Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme as Ambassador for Engineers Week 2020 to help tackle outdated attitudes and stereotypes towards underrepresented communities and to showcase that engineering is an all-inclusive profession.”
Margie McCarthy, head of education and public engagement at Science Foundation Ireland, and chartered engineer, said: “We are delighted to support Engineers Week 2020 in partnership with Engineers Ireland’s STEPS Programme.
"Engineers Week 2020 offers an opportunity to encourage and inspire young people by increasing their knowledge and understanding of the world of engineering. Engineering innovations are needed to help our world solve tomorrow’s challenges.
"It is our hope that the engineering community will come together to help Ireland’s future engineering talent explore this fascinating subject area and learn about how engineers shape our world.”
'Play a critical role in shaping the world around us'
“Engineers play a critical role in shaping the world around us and play an important role in addressing some of society’s biggest challenges, from providing renewable energy and smart, sustainable infrastructure to protecting our water supplies and advancing healthcare developments," said Sayers.
"It is our hope that the engineering profession and role models working within industry will answer our call and help inspire our future engineering talent by getting involved in Engineers Week 2020.”
Engineers Week, now in its 14th year, is a campaign held annually to promote engineering as a career and the importance of the profession to children in Ireland.
Engineers Week 2019 involved more than 800 activities which were attended by over 99,000 participants. To find out more about resources available or to register an activity log on to www.engineersweek.ie.