Student “change makers” call on Government to support promotion of STEM


Student “change makers” call on Government to support the promotion of careers in STEM among young girls

The launch of the 2019 I WISH survey results saw the female change makers of tomorrow attend Leinster House to engage with the Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD and other elected representatives. These young girls were able to educate our elected representatives on how they could more effectively promote careers in Stem to the next generation of female leaders and innovators. The students also had the opportunity to ask both the Minister and his colleagues to help play their part in breaking down the barriers for young women contemplating a career in STEM by highlighting to them the significant Information Gap and Confidence Gap that we need to bridge.

The I WISH survey is the largest annual survey of Irish secondary school girls’ attitudes towards STEM and what influences them in their subject and career choices at this key transition point. The 2019 survey revealed that while 89% of female secondary school students feel STEM is a growing area of opportunity, students feel that a significant information and confidence gap remain, limiting the number of girls choosing a career in STEM. The results were gathered from the I Wish events in 2019 at which almost 6,000 students and their teachers attended. The I Wish events showcase role models and businesses operating in STEM and are free events, specifically focussed on inspiring young female students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

As well as meeting these STEM “change makers”, Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD officially launched the I WISH survey results in Leinster House , which was attended by a number of female secondary school students who signed up for I Wish 2020. The launch was also watched by female students from across the country through a live stream which gave them the opportunity to ask the Minister and panellists questions related to their future through twitter.

Minister McHugh stated “It was an honour to meet these young women and hear first hand from them the barriers that are real to them, when it comes to STEM. The survey results make very interesting reading and we all must play our part in supporting these young people – parents, teachers, industry and of course my Department and government as a whole has an important role to play as well.”

Key findings of the survey include:

  • 89% of female students see STEM as a growing area for opportunity
  • 64% of female students don’t know enough about STEM
  • 75% of female students feel role models are very important in STEM
  • 49% of girls said they want a job where they can help other people
  • 48% of teachers said they do not know where to go for information on industry or school initiatives
  • 64% of female students revealed that their mum gives them the most confidence to try new things. Since 2015, I WISH has held showcase events in Dublin and Cork, opening doors to a career in STEM to almost 17,000 young girls across Ireland as well as teachers, career guidance counsellors and families who play such an influential role in the future career choices of young girls.
  • Commenting on the survey results, Gillian Keating, partner with Ronan Daly Jermyn and one of the founding members of I WISH said, “Ireland’s young female students recognise that there is growing opportunity in the area of STEM, but we need to show them more clearly the pathway for them in Stem. If we want to fully enable technology it is essential that we encourage the next generation of females to engage with it, to do this we need to provide them with the information they need to recognise the opportunities to shape a better world through STEM. When we speak with female students, the recurring theme is that they want to choose careers where they can make a difference. By providing information to these young girls in a way that resonates with them and celebrating amazing role models in STEM, we can also start to bridge the confidence gap that is holding these young women back.