2,000 students urged to consider a life in science at I Wish event

2,000 students urged to consider a life in science at I Wish event

Some of the attendees at I Wish 2019 at Cork City Hall. The showcase seeks to inspires transition year girls to consider taking STEM subjects. Pictures: Clare Keogh

OPPORTUNITIES for girls in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) are out there in Cork and Ireland, and the I Wish initiative is vital for getting that message across.

I Wish 2019, Ireland’s unique event inviting transition year girls to consider a life in STEM, got underway at Cork City Hall yesterday.

Katie McCarthy, Elannah Sheehan, and Ava Rodgers at the first day of I Wish 2019 at City Hall.
Katie McCarthy, Elannah Sheehan, and Ava Rodgers at the first day of I Wish 2019 at City Hall.

This is the fifth year of the education showcase, which is held each year in Dublin and Cork. Around 2,000 students will attend the event in Cork with a further 4,000 in Dublin next week.

“Events like this are incredibly important,” said Trisha Smith, Dell’s head of diversity and inclusion for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We need to make girls aware of all the options available to them.

“We’re not trying to force them into STEM, we just want them to know it’s there as an option for girls as much as boys.

“When we see pictures of scientists or computer programmer it’s often a boy and what we need is more role models, more women doing these jobs so girls can see that they can do them too.”

Ciara Judge, Kinsale, who won the BT Young Scientist, the EU Young Scientist and the Google Science Fair, with her colleagues, speaking at I Wish 2019 at Cork City Hall. Some 6,000 girls are attending this years events.
Ciara Judge, Kinsale, who won the BT Young Scientist, the EU Young Scientist and the Google Science Fair, with her colleagues, speaking at I Wish 2019 at Cork City Hall. Some 6,000 girls are attending this years events.

With such a large presence in Cork, Ms Smith said it is important for Dell to encourage local girls to take up careers in the field.

“The opportunities are there for girls in Cork in our offices,” she said. “We run mentoring programmes for girls in STEM courses in UCC and CIT, to try to attract them and give them a start in their career.

“We’re so dependent on top talent in Cork, that’s why we’re here today.”

The I Wish events are geared towards finding the next generation of STEM workforce in Ireland, said co-founder Caroline O’Driscoll.

Katie McCarthy, Elannah Sheehan, and Ava Rodgers at the first day of I Wish 2019 at City Hall.
Katie McCarthy, Elannah Sheehan, and Ava Rodgers at the first day of I Wish 2019 at City Hall.

“Ireland performs very strongly when it comes to STEM but actually, less than 25% of our STEM workforce is female,” she said.

“A lot of companies here in Ireland are very concerned about diversity in STEM and that’s what these events are trying to address, to sort out the imbalance that exists.

“That helps everyone because it future proofs our talent pool and the more talent that is available, the more likely companies are to invest here in Ireland.”

Arup, one of the largest engineering consulting firms in Ireland with offices in Cork, runs an intern programme in collaboration with I Wish.

Emily McSweeney of Arup said I Wish events are crucial “When I was 16 I didn’t know what engineering was. So to be here finding out about all the different areas and opportunities out there, it’s great for girls who might be interested in education and careers around STEM.”

Holly Jordan, St Patrick’s Comprehensive, Shannon, County Clare, chatting withHayley Orr of Stryker at the first day of I Wish 2019.
Holly Jordan, St Patrick’s Comprehensive, Shannon, County Clare, chatting withHayley Orr of Stryker at the first day of I Wish 2019.

Arup director John O’Sullivan graduated in 1987 when just one female was in his class. “When I joined a company in London, there were no female engineers,” he said.

“It’s now a much more positive environment now than when I came through.

“There are also a lot more opportunities for girls which is great to see.”

Local Cork students Ava Minehane and Freya Moir were at the event, attending with Carrigaline Community School.

“It’s a really good event,” said Ava. “It’s encouraging to see the options out there. I think it might encourage me to a career in STEM.”

“I’m considering a career in STEM much more now after this event,” said Freya.

“Previously I thought I might not have been smart enough but everyone here has said you don’t necessarily need to be the smartest, and just to enjoy it as well.”

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