120 transition-year students from over 30 second-level schools in Limerick, Cork, and surrounding counties will attend female-only programmes the University of Limerick (UL) and at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) this week. I Wish is an initiative to inspire, encourage and motivate young female students to pursue careers in STEM.
Robots, investigating cancer, designing aeroplane parts and computer games are just a sample of the activities on offer during the campus weeks at Limerick and Cork.
The I Wish Campus Weeks run from January 14th-18th, and comprise of 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.
Mary Moloney who, along with Norma Welch, have coordinated the highly successful CIT Campus programme over the past 3 years said: “this is the biggest year yet with over 120 students from across Munster engaging with the sold-out programmes at CIT and UL, these programmes encourage young girls to open their eyes and see the opportunities out there and to keep doors open until they are ready to make an informed choice about what they want to do in the future.”
The 2018 I Wish annual survey, which involved more than 2,200 transition year students, showed that secondary school girls and their teachers are still not fully aware of the opportunities that STEM subjects can provide. The survey found that 59% of girls believe they don’t know enough about STEM careers. In addition, 93% of teachers say that self-belief in girls’ own ability is a major roadblock to STEM promotion in schools, and 90% of teachers want to see workshops for girls to enhance resilience and confidence. Co-founder of I Wish, Caroline O’Driscoll, said: “We can now demonstrate definitively that the more a girl is exposed to extracurricular STEM events, the more likely she is to take on related Leaving Cert subjects and college courses. Information and confidence are also key, however. The CIT and UL campus weeks showcase the opportunities through STEM and will build girls’ confidence in their ability to improve people’s lives through STEM.”
The Dean of Science and Engineering in UL, Professor Edmond Magner, outlined why he feels that the campus weeks are an important way to encourage girls to study STEM: “The programmes at UL and CIT highlight that STEM subjects match girls’ careers ambitions, personalities and hobbies as much as boys. We are delighted to offer these students the opportunity to immerse themselves in all that is great in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) via applied and practical interactive workshops, site visits and demonstrations with fantastic mentors.”
The University of Limerick and Cork Institute of Technology are committed to building and maintaining an inclusive environment which promotes equality, values diversity and respects the rights and dignity of all. UL and CIT are working to raise awareness and ensure the engagement and advancement of women across the institutions. UL has been awarded the Athena SWAN bronze institutional award, which recognises the advancement of gender equality, and several Departments and Schools across the University have also successfully gained bronze awards. CIT are currently working towards their Athena SWAN bronze institutional award.