Helping the STEM industry to shine and prosper with right talent

EMMA CONNOLLY catches up with the chair of STEM South West Marguerite O’Sullivan
Helping the STEM industry to shine and prosper with right talent

Sarah O'Sullivan St.Angelas Secondary, Elaine O'Donnell Gilead Sciences, Aimee Hickson Mahony St Aloysius College and Marguerite O'Sullivan Chair STEM South West. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

STEM South West, an industry-led group striving to promote and nurture STEM in the region, is looking for new members.

The group was set up in 2019 to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths, and its current chair is Marguerite O’ Sullivan, who is so passionate about this area that she’s writing a STEM Textbook for schools.

Currently on career break, the Cork woman is an engineering strategy leader at Depuy Synthes Johnson and Johnson, and feels strongly about the continued need to promote diversity and inclusion in STEM, and also to break down some of the barriers to such careers in our talent pipeline for the future.

Currently the dynamic cluster comprises a range of members from regional industry stakeholders: SMEs and multinationals; Higher Education Institutes: Munster Technological University Cork and Kerry, and University College Cork; local government: Cork County Council; Regional Skills southwest. Enterprise Ireland, Teachers, and career guidance teachers.

“Together with our members, we aim to grow the region’s brand and investment attractiveness to position the South West as a region of choice where STEM talent and industries can thrive,” said Marguerite, a former Network Cork president.

The group has a major focus on showing students what a career in STEM looks like, and held its first careers expo in Cork in 2019.

“Now, after its third year, results are very strong. Nine out of 10 students who attended previous events said that they would now be more likely to choose a career in STEM, having attended one of our expos,” said Marguerite.

“Another fantastic program we have is our STEM TY Challenge which offers students an opportunity to understand what working in a STEM career is like through working with world-class companies in Cork.

“Through this mentorship and skill development programme, groups will get a genuine insight into the wide variety of career opportunities available across STEM and how to build and transfer communication, basic tech skills, and problem-solving in great output,” said Marguerite.

Susan Hayes Culleton, from Savvy Teen, is facilitating the challenge and getting to uncover barriers to teenagers taking up STEM due to misperceptions and stereotypes.

“It was quite telling when one female student asked Susan that if she does Engineering, can she get the same opportunities as men do in the engineering field or will she be looked down on as a girl!” said Marguerite.

STEM South West membership is open to companies whose foundations are based in science, technology, engineering or mathsrelated start-ups, knowledge providers, and recent graduates who are interested in pursuing a career in the field of STEM, and more.

Marguerite sees the power of STEM Southwest members coming together collectively to make a difference in the STEM industry by tackling barriers, facing challenges to growing the talent pipeline, and focusing on how we can future proof.

“We know that without this focus on talent, the STEM industry in this region will not be able to shine and prosper,” she said.

For more see


The annual’ I Wish Report 22 on female TY students’ perspectives on STEM, has revealed significant change, with 93% of girls surveyed rejecting the stereotype that STEM careers are more suited to boys, in contrast with 78% in 2016.

However, 46% cited existing stereotypes in STEM as a reason for the fact that only one in four people working in STEM are women.

84% of female students want to know more about STEM compared with 53% in 2016 revealing further positive change.

76% plan to study Leaving Cert Maths at higher level (66% in 2016).

I Wish, the organisation inspiring teenage girls globally towards STEM which was founded in Cork in 2015, asked students about perceived barriers to a career in the sector.

Two thirds of female students cited insufficient information about STEM careers.

A similar number (64%) highlighted persistent poor gender equality in STEM as a barrier and 61% lacked access to work experience in the sector.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more