- More role models needed to help girls and women see the difference a STEM career can have on society
- Inspiring future talent is a key element in the Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland: Skills for a 10x economy
The Northern Ireland hub of WISE*, the campaign to improve gender balance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), is calling for women working in these fields to become role models on its careers platform My Skills My Life.
The online resource was developed to address the stereotype that science, engineering and technology are more suited to boys than girls which research has proven to be untrue. It helps girls to identify their personality types, shows them the sorts of roles in STEM that they could do, and matches them to role models who share their personality type to learn more about STEM careers. Currently, in Northern Ireland only 15% of women work in STEM roles and only 7.8% of girls study STEM qualifications to the point of employment in a STEM role.
Emer Murnaghan, Chair of WISE’s Northern Ireland hub and Innovation Director, Civil Engineering, GRAHAM, explains: “We’ve hit a major milestone of 1 million women working in STEM roles in the UK; we now need to push even further and particularly in Northern Ireland. We’re aiming to reach girls through our My Life My Skills online careers resource and inspire them to play their part in building society’s future technologies and engineering breakthroughs. We need employers to identify or highlight role models from among their teams who can inspire young people who could potentially be their future employees building resilience and innovation into their businesses.”
The call comes as the Department for the Economy laid out its ambitious 10 year skills strategy: Skills for a 10x Economy published in May 2021 which is open for consultation until August 2021. The strategy sets a vision for a decade of innovation to deliver a ten times better economy with benefits for all people.
Emer adds: “To achieve the Government’s ambitious skills strategy, we need to take action today. We need to help girls and their parents understand the benefit of studying STEM subjects in school and recognise the types of careers they can enter. We also need to ensure that women of all ages and backgrounds have the opportunity to participate in these exciting careers by providing them with the opportunity to retrain. In today’s world, life-long learning has never been more important.”
Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “My department’s 10X Skills Strategy, currently out for public consultation, sets out how we will focus on science, technology, engineering and maths to equip people for the future employment market “I firmly believe everyone has their own attributes and strengths which is why it is important to offer the widest possible range of learning pathways. I also believe our career choices and pathways should not be constrained by gender, traditional stereotypes or age. This online resource is invaluable in helping to identify careers within STEM based purely on interests and ability and encouraging girls and young women to explore the many varied and exciting career opportunities within the STEM sector here in Northern Ireland.”