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Young scientist competition shows potential for girls in STEM

11 January 2018

Statement by Cllr Deirdre Kingston
Spokesperson for Equality

Labour spokesperson on Equality, Cllr Deirdre Kinsgton, has said the high proportion of girls participating in this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition shows the enormous potential for women in the STEM sectors, and that girls should be actively encouraged to continue in these fields as they progress through the education system and into their careers.

Cllr Kinsgton said:

“Firstly I’d like to congratulate all the young people from across Ireland taking part in the Young Scientist Exhibition. It’s a really great event that showcases some of the country’s brightest young minds, and I’ve been amazed by some of the extraordinary projects on show.

“I am particularly encouraged to learn that 60% of this year’s participants are girls, a consistent trend we’ve being seeing now over the past number of years.

“The enormous young female talent on display at events like this really highlights the importance of tackling the shortage of women working in STEM related fields, with figures from the CSO estimating that less than 25 per cent of those working in these sectors are women.

“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.

“A report by Accenture Ireland that looked at the STEM issue pointed to certain ‘barriers to entry’ for women in STEM, such as negative stereotypes towards STEM subjects and careers as being more suitable for boys than girls, and the need for parents to inform themselves about careers in STEM to positively influence their daughters.

“As we have seen from the bright young talent on display at the Young Scientist competition, there is huge potential for the growth of STEM in Ireland, and girls must be given every encouragement and opportunity to continue on this path from a young age.”