Over 70 influential leaders in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) spoke at the I Wish 2022 Stem Showcase yesterday, highlighting the power of female role models in inspiring teenage girls towards Stem careers.
With seven in 10 Irish girls wanting to hear more success stories from women in Stem to assist them in overcoming barriers, over 17,000 young teenage female attendees from across the globe heard from inspirational Stem professionals and gender equality advocates.
Taking place ahead of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science today (February 11th), speakers included the first female President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson; and Deputy Ambassador at the Embassy of Ireland in Washington DC, Orla Keane.
On the flagship I Wish event, co-founder of I Wish Caroline O’ Driscoll, who is also Technology Media & Telecommunications Tax leader at Deloitte North and South Europe, said: “It is critical for girls to have access to role models when choosing to pursue a career in STEM. If they can see it, they can be it. Worryingly, only 25 per cent of Stem jobs in Ireland are currently held by females and this is why we hold the I Wish Stem Showcase every year, and why so many incredible women in Stem give up their time to be involved.
She added: "It has never been more crucial to engage girls in Stem, as while the past two years has accelerated science and technological discovery, it has also exacerbated the gender divide, with women now at real risk of being excluded from the jobs of the future. Our mission is to ensure that every girl gets her chance to take her place at the table."
The I Wish 2022 STEM Showcase was broadcast live from the RDS and was opened by Taoiseach Micheál Martin and compèred by RTÉ TV Presenter Sinead Kennedy.
Speaking on gender equality, Deputy Ambassador at the Embassy of Ireland in Washington DC, Orla Keane said: "I am honoured to be part of this landmark event. I Wish is an incredible Irish-based initiative that is dedicated to driving the power of Stem to female students across the globe. My career in the Department of Foreign Affairs has given me the opportunity to meet amazing women in all walks of life. It is crucially important that girls realise their full potential, both in education and in the workplace, including in the important area of Stem."
She added: "Ireland has the youngest population in Europe and our Government is committed to nurturing talent in our society, encouraging innovation and equipping us for future challenges. Here in Washington DC, I see the dynamic relationships between Ireland and the US across so many sectors and want to encourage girls to be part of these incredible stories.”
Further speakers on the virtual stage sharing their stories and experiences included Ireland’s EU commissioner Mairead McGuinness; Anna Hill, founder and CEO of River Cycleway Europe; Brenda Romero, an award-winning game designer; and Imelda Hurley, CEO at Coillte.
International hockey star and mechanical engineer Nicci Daly also spoke at the event while CEO of IDA Ireland Martin Shanahan discussed the need for a diverse workforce to attract future foreign investment into Ireland.
President and co-founder of Stripe, John Collison, said: "We’re all here because we have a shared goal to motivate and inspire more young women to pursue careers in STEM. That’s something that’s very important to Stripe, and to me."
Students from Presentation Secondary School in Ballyphehane, Cork and Loreto Community School in Milford, Donegal joined their US peers from Archbishop Riordan High School, San Francisco and Owen J Roberts High School, Pennsylvania in presenting at the event as part of the I Wish IVCA Twinning Xchange programme.
To learn more, visit iwish.ie.