Dept of Education & multi-nationals must do more to encourage girls to study STEM

23 October 2018

Following the publication a survey of girls’ attitudes to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths by iWish, Labour Education spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said more must be done to encourage girls to turn to STEM subjects both in school and as a potential career choice.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“The results of the iWish survey of Transition Year students attitudes to STEM are disheartening. It’s sad that in 2018, 85% of teachers believe that girls’ confidence in their ability is a big influence on the rate of STEM subject take up.

“The Department of Education and Skills need to do more to make STEM subjects attractive to girls. It’s not right that after three years of secondary school that 59% of girls in TY feel that they do not know enough about STEM.

“We know that when girls are properly encouraged about the possibilities of STEM, that they excel. We just need to look at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition, this year over 60% of participants were girls.

“In its 2016 report, the STEM Education Review Group highlighted issues around subject choice in second level, with girls making up just 5.3% of all Leaving Cert Engineering students in 2015, while only a quarter of pupils studying Technology that year were girls. A ratio of 3:1 boys over girls studied physics, with more girls than boys studying biology.

“However the responsibility of the promotion of STEM subjects among young girls can’t just lie with the Department of Education, some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical and technological companies are based here in Ireland. The CSO estimate that less that 25% working in these sectors are women. As part of corporate responsibility programmes, these companies need to target girls from an early age in the classroom and give a first-hand experience of the very many benefits of studying STEM subjects.

“There is huge potential for the growth of STEM in Ireland, and girls just be given every encouragement and opportunity to continue on this path from a young age.”

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