Female STEM students unaware of their job options

By Olivia Kelleher

Recent research conducted among undergraduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) at the University of Limerick has revealed that almost one third are not aware of the types of jobs they could apply for once they graduate.

The research carried out as part of a Johnson & Johnson Women in Science and Technology programme also indicates that female students are much more likely to indicate a lack of knowledge over STEM career options.

58% of respondents were female, 41% male and 1% identified as non-gender binary.

However, of the 29% of undergraduates that do not know which jobs to apply for, 67% were female.

The gender divide became even clearer when students were asked about their exposure to the workplace, with 56% of students surveyed saying they had never visited an industry facility.

Of those who had never visited an industry facility, 66% were female.

In total, 33% of those surveyed said they would not be comfortable contacting a person working in industry about potential job opportunities.

In an effort to address these issues, Johnson & Johnson has announced that the WiSTEM2D programme will expand to University College Cork this month.

WiSTEM2D stands for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design.

The programme in Ireland is underpinned by global partnerships with academic institutions in the US, Japan and South America.

Minister for Higher Education at the Department of Education, Mary Mitchell-O’Connor TD, said many of the world’s most innovative enterprises are in the STEM disciplines and we need more women choosing to pursue STEM careers in Ireland.

The under-representation of women in the STEM workforce has to be addressed. This partnership between Johnson & Johnson and UL, which focuses on increasing the number of female STEM graduates, is an excellent example of higher education and business working together to address this problem.

The WiSTEM2D offers women studying STEM2D courses the opportunity to engage with women working in these careers.

First-hand experience of site tours, mentoring, project and career workshops enable students to visualise exactly what it is like to have a career in STEM.

Speaking on behalf of J&J at the UL launch event, Mark Devine, Senior Director at EMEA software development centres said globally, the programme focuses on increasing representation of girls and women in STEM2D fields across all life stages.

"This is achieved through our youth programme at primary and secondary level, and at the professional stage where identification and implementation of best practices for attracting and retaining female talent remain a top priority.”

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