In honour of International Women in Engineering Day, on 23 June ICE Northern Ireland held a mother-daughter day at Arup to inspire the next generation of girls to pursue careers in STEM.
Called “People Like Me,” the event was put on in conjunction with the WISE campaign and sponsored by Arup, Doran Consulting, Graham and Translink.
The event showcased female ICE ambassadors, who spoke with school girls and their mums about their career trajectories, aspirations and day-to-day working experiences.
“We need more parents to encourage their girls to explore STEM subjects, which is why we had mums and daughters hear first-hand from brilliant women how rewarding and fun their careers are,” said Richard Kirk, ICE Regional Director of Northern Ireland.
“Parents play an integral role in guiding their children toward certain careers, and many don’t know of the myriad opportunities in STEM here in Northern Ireland.”
“We also want to enable girls to visualise themselves working in these sectors, and having female role models is crucial to achieving that.”
Northern Ireland has a serious shortage of STEM skills, with IT and civil engineering facing the biggest undersupply over the next 10 years. ICE and other industry bodies are endeavouring to recruit more young people by championing apprenticeships and alternative routes to qualification. However, being able to attract and retain women is also key to addressing the shortages.
At a local level, more young women are coming into industry than in the past. ICE Northern Ireland has a much higher female-to-male ratio under the age of 30 compared to overall figures.
“Whilst this is great progress, there’s no reason why that number shouldn’t be 50 percent,” Richard said.
“Women account for half the population and we want to see that reflected in Northern Ireland’s STEM sector. It’s a matter of showing girls not only that it’s possible, but that it’s desirable and full of opportunities for them.”