Almost two-thirds of young women say they do not know enough about science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) to pursue a career in those fields, despite growing investment in the sector.
That’s according to a survey carried out by I WISH, an initiative encouraging young women to pursue careers in STEM.
As part of the study, almost 3,200 secondary school girls were surveyed on their attitudes towards STEM subjects.
With 64% of those surveyed reporting that they do not know enough about those subjects, more than a quarter also said that they believed there are easier ways of getting CAO points than opting to study STEM.
“Year on year, the girls tell us that they want a career where they can help other people, or change the world for the better,” said Caroline O’Driscoll, one of the founding members of I WISH.
“Yet with 64% of them telling us they do not know enough about STEM, they don’t see how STEM can facilitate that.”
“And so they lose out, and in turn we do too. We are limiting their choices, limiting their chances to follow their dreams and the world loses an extraordinary talent opportunity.”
Caroline Fahey, a transition-year student from Holy Child School in Dublin who is involved with I WISH, said: “There are so many career choices out there but being able to find the right information and discovering the various career paths is not so easy.”
“We don’t see as many women working in STEM so it’s difficult to imagine it as a career,” Ms Fahey said.
The principal of Holy Child School Caroline O’Brien said I Wish has been fantastic for their school as it helps students make the connection between STEM subjects and the range of careers that are open to them.
“It excites (students’) interest in STEM at a really important time in their academic careers, when they are making important choices,” Ms O’Brien said.
“I believe that the gender gap in the STEM subjects can be addressed by instilling confidence in our students that they can make a difference and be successful in STEM careers. But we need to show them.”
The 2020 I Wish Showcases take place in City Hall Corkon January 30 and 31 and the RDS on February 3 and 4.