Despite growing STEM economy, 64% of girls say they don’t know enough about STEM

The I Wish annual survey, the largest survey of Irish secondary school girls and their attitude to STEM, finds an information and confidence gap remains. 3,168 girls responded to the survey.

Over 26% of students said there are easier ways of getting CAO points than choosing to study STEM subjects, according to a recent survey from I WISH, an organisation which inspires and motivates young secondary school female students to pursue careers in STEM.

Caroline O’Driscoll, tax partner with Deloitte and one of the founding members of I WISH said that sharing information, role models and empowering girls to be confident in their choices were key to closing the gap for girls in STEM.

“Year on year, the girls tell us that they want a career where they can help other people, or change the world for the better. Yet with 64% of them telling us they do not know enough about STEM, they don’t see how STEM can facilitate that. And so they lose out, and in turn we do too. We are limiting their choices, limiting their chances to follow their dreams and the world loses an extraordinary talent opportunity. We need to change that narrative. We need to equip teachers and students with knowledge, give them access to female role models who have blazed their own trail. We need to better empower girls, to give them the confidence and support to break down stereotypes and misconceptions, to be the generation of change. There are many amazing women in STEM– we need to shine a light on them and the incredible world changing projects they are involved in, demystify what it is like to work in STEM, and in doing so inspire the next generation of leaders”

Since 2015, I WISH has held showcase events in Dublin and Cork, opening doors to a career in STEM to almost 17,000 young girls across Ireland as well as teachers, career guidance counsellors and families who play such an influential role in the future career choices of young girls. In 2019 alone due to phenomenal demand, 6,000 female students attended the showcase events where they heard from a host of influential speakers on how a career in STEM can change our world for the better. Teachers enjoyed unconscious bias workshops and information sessions in the Teach it Zone, while students got involved in a host of activities in the exhibition zone and Create IT zone.

Registration is now open for secondary schools across Ireland to attend the 2020 I Wish Showcases which will take place in the RDS on February 3rd & 4th 2020 and on January 30th & 31st in City Hall Cork. Capacity will be extended to 7,000 girls on a first come, first served basis.

Caroline Fahey, Transition year student at Holy Child School in Killiney will be one of the students attending the 2020 I WISH Showcase in the RDS in February. Sharing her thoughts on the lack of girls choosing to study STEM subjects, Caroline said “There are so many career choices out there but  being able to find the right information and discovering the various career paths is not so easy. We don’t see as many women working in STEM so it’s difficult to imagine it as a career. The great thing about I WISH is that it has us thinking about STEM and simply just opening our eyes to allow us to consider a different future for ourselves, because why should we be limited in our choices and risk being left behind? Having the chance to meet with women who are working in STEM and hearing their story is something I’m very much looking forward to at the I WISH showcase.”

Caroline O’Brien, Principal of Holy Child Killiney whose students have been attending the I WIsh conference for the past number of years at the RDS said, ‘I WISH is fantastic because it allows our students to make the connection between the STEM subjects they can study at Holy Child Killiney and the amazing range of careers open to them. It excites their interest in STEM at a really important time in their academic careers, when they are making important choices. I believe that the gender gap in the STEM subjects can be addressed by instilling confidence in our students that they can make a difference and be successful in STEM careers. But we need to show them, and I WISH does just that’.

For further information on I wish and to register your school visit www.iwish.ie.

 

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