Control a robotic telescope in California or track human emotions using facial-recognition algorithms — just a sample of the activities on offer at the country’s first all-girls tech week.

Some 80 transition-year students from 19 second-level schools in Cork City and county will attend a female-only programme at Cork Institute of Technology this month which, organisers say, is the first of its kind in the country.

The I Wish Campus Week, running from January 18-22, comprises workshops, interactive demonstrations, panel sessions, and industry site visits, all aimed at providing students with an in-depth insight into the daily lives of science, technology, engineering, and maths (Stem) professionals and graduates.

“It’s well known that girls are under-represented in Stem programmes in college and in Stem sectors in the workplace,” said Aisling O’Driscoll, lecturer and researcher in the Department of Computing at CIT.

“Only about 7% of technical roles in European companies are filled by women,” she added, emphasising that in coming years more women will be needed.

Forfás has predicted that, within five years, the industry will experience a shortage of suitably qualified experts to fill some 44,500 positions in the tech sector.

“Our goal is to encourage more girls to consider taking Stem subjects on to third level, and, long term, provide good role models to encourage younger girls to consider careers in this area,” said Ms O’Driscoll.

She said the response to the course has been extremely positive and most of the places are already full. However, any school or student interested in signing up has until Wednesday, January 13, to register.

The initiative is a partnership between CIT, Cork City Council, Cork Chamber, it@cork, DFI, Dell, Cork County Council, and UCC.

It was recognised at the recent Chamber Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards in the category of promoting economic development.

The cost for the I Wish campus week, including Industry site visits, is €50.



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