News & Media

Pharma & tech firms have an obligation to promote STEM to young Irish girls

11 February 2019

Statement by Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin
Spokesperson on Education and Skills, Gaeilge and the Gaeltacht

On International Day of Women in Science, Labour Party Education spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has said that the many STEM focused multinationals based in Ireland have an obligation to promote STEM subjects to young girls in Irish schools.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“We know that young Irish girls struggle with their confidence when it comes to STEM subjects. A survey carried out by iWish late last year showed that 85% of teachers believe girls’ confidence in their ability has a big influence on the rate of STEM subjects take up.

“We know that the Department of Education and Skills has much work to do to increase the numbers of girls studying science subjects, engineering and physics in particular where there is a huge dip in the numbers of girls studying these subjects.

“We all know that in single gender schools that subject choice can be extremely limited. It is time for the Department of Education and Skills should start the process of challenging the single gender policy of one-third of our second-level schools as this leads to restricted subject choice and gender stereotyping in too many of our second level schools. 

“The responsibility of the promotion of STEM subjects cannot just lie at the Department’s door. Some of the world leaders in the pharmaceutical and tech industries are based here in Ireland and they need to do more to encourage young girls to keep up with Science after the Junior Cert so that they have the option to continue science through college.

“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.”