Theme of I Wish

Our Theme for I Wish is how STEM can change our world.

A key flavour coming out of our survey is how girls are trending towards the social sciences or biology. Indeed 75 % of the girls felt that helping other people was important when they choose their career. They want a career which has a world purpose – they get it in the fields of medicine ( which is why 80 % of them do biology ) but only 16% physics – because they cannot relate physics to a job with ” purpose ” .

Rather than fight against this, we are going to work with it.

We have so many world problems to solve  in the next few decades – over population, food shortage, food wastage how do we feed many more billions of people using the same land, the same food, the same water ? Climate Change. Sustainability. Ageing populations. Urbanisation. How do we solve these problems ? The answer will be in STEM. Technology meets medicine. Drones finding animals lost on farms. The opportunity of Artificial Intelligence. 3 D Printing limits. Rather than fight girls perceptions of STEM, why not work with what they do want – a job with purpose – lets explain to them how big the worlds problems are – and lets show them the real jobs in STEM where they can help solve them.

The I WISH Conference

I Wish is an initiative to inspire, encourage and motivate young secondary school female students to pursue careers in STEM. I Wish ( inspiring women in STEM ) features a conference and interactive exhibitions. The conference consists of workshops, daily keynote and engaging talks by women who are at the top of their field in STEM. The showcase event combines talks and interaction with female role models ( superstars and graduates ) with interactive exhibition spaces where companies engage with the students directly with experiments and demonstrations of what they actually do.

The Background

Five years ago, 3 women living and working in Cork became concerned about the STEM skills gap bubbling up in the region. When they discovered the shockingly low levels of women participating in STEM, the answer became obvious. We need more women. So over a cup of coffee on South Mall, I WISH was born. With the support of Cork Chamber, IT@Cork, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, UCC and CIT a whirlwind year followed, full of planning, detail, cups of coffee, drama, new wrinkles, friendship, insanity and laughter. On 12 February 2015, with huge support from wonderful sponsors, I WISH was unleashed to 1,000 transition year girl students and in 2016 we doubled our reach to 2,000 girls. In February 2017 I Wish expanded nationally and with the support of Local Government, our sponsors and Cork & Dublin City and County Councils I Wish increased its reach again hosting the event over 2 days in Cork and 2 days in Dublin and reached out to 4,000 students. In 2018 I Wish had a further ambitious goal to increase their reach to 5,000 students nationally.To date over 12,000 girls have registered for the I Wish programme. I Wish 2019 intends to further increase that reach and keep expanding this inspiring event until eventually we see a difference in female participation in the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Core objectives of I WISH

Encourage participation of young women in STEM


Build a sustainable talent pipeline in Ireland.


Influence subject choices in transition year


Improve STEM branding among young women


Inform parents and teachers about career choices


Provide role models for young women interested in STEM


Inspire girls to pursue careers in these essential fields


Gillian Keating
Partner RDJ

Gillian is a partner with Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors.
Gillian is passionate about ensuring that the next generation of women know all about the opportunities in STEM. Gillian wants girls to be fully informed on how STEM changes lives, improves our environment and solves world problems so no young woman ever says “I wish I knew… I could have been…”!!
A key element to Ireland’s success on the world stage is and will continue to be the availability of a strong talent pool to meet the requirements of multinational and indigenous companies. Ireland will be best placed to maintain a strong talent pool by harnessing the power of the next generation of young women and Gillian is determined that I Wish will make this happen.

Choices Chances Changes.

Caroline O’Driscoll
Partner Deloitte

Caroline is a tax partner with Deloitte Ireland focused on the technology, life science, pharma and food/drinks sectors. She has a passion for all things tech, and is chairperson of it@cork in a voluntary capacity. She is a regular speaker at conferences from West Cork to Web Summit and everything in between. This passion led her to I Wish to resolve the low participation of girls in STEM. The rest as they say is history. Caroline is a winner of the national Boots WMB Empowering Women Award 2015, was awarded one of Irelands Top Ten Outstanding Young People 2016 and was honoured to be awarded the UCC Alumni Award 2017 with her fellow Co-founders for their work on I Wish. Caroline is also a regional advisor to Tech Ireland.

Ruth Buckley
Director of ICT & Business Services Cork City Council

Ruth Buckley is the Head of ICT and Business Services in Cork City Council. As a director on the senior management team, Ruth is responsible for the direction and growth of technology across all Directorates, which includes the roll out of business process improvement and identifying cost saving initiatives. Ruth has over 25 years’ experience of working in the ICT sector in Ireland in both the private and public sectors.