Ireland is changing, and in order to meet its aspirations and be a world class centre for tech companies of tomorrow, it needs to inspire young people, both male and female to engage in technology.
A new report by Accenture has explored the barriers and challenges facing parents, teachers, and young girls when it comes to making decisions on studying STEM-related subjects, and what effect this will have on their future in the industry.
According to the report titled ‘Powering Economic Growth: Attracting more young women into science and technology’ says "women are vastly under-represented in science and technology-based careers that will drive the industries of tommorow and shape all our futures"
Parents are the main influencers and seem to have difficulty advising their daughters on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and the of lack information and gender stereotypes surrounding the subjects are to blame.
The statistics across the European Union also reflect this with just 6% - 7% percent of technical careers being filled by women.
Although record numbers of students have chosen STEM subjects on their CAO applications this year, Ireland is still falling behind the European average, especially in the uptake by girls.
In Ireland, there are roughly 117,800 people working in jobs that utilise STEM skills. The proportion of women employed in such roles hovers at less than 25%, according to the Central Statistics Office, Forfás, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs has also said that Irish companies collectively will have an estimated 44,500 job openings for people with high-level information and communications technology (ICT) skills over the next six years. The risk that unless action is taken those openings will go unfilled.
The report by Accenture should help to break down these barriers and thereby enable more young girls, as well as the boys, to be confident in choosing the STEM subjects in their post-primary education, thus giving them the option of following a rich, exciting and varied career in the Science and Technology areas"
We here at The Irish Computer Society support the encouragement of women to join the IT industry, our CEO Jim Friars has said "More girls should be encouraged to study STEM subjects at school and college, it's time to break the gender stereotype, there will be a lot of tech roles to fill in Ireland in the coming years and we need to utilise this talent"