DIT inspires the next generation of female engineers

DIT - engineering a future for female engineers

7th March, 2012: More than 200 girls from secondary schools across Ireland descended on DIT last week for a unique, ‘Girls Only’ event.  Organised by DIT as part of National Engineers Week 2012, the event, “Women in Engineering - A Role Model Day for 2nd level students’ was designed to encourage more women and girls to choose engineering as a career.

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John Power (Director General of Engineers Ireland pictured with prospective engineering students from local secondary schools)

Currently only 10% of the engineering workforce in Ireland are women and 20% of engineering undergraduates are women. But according to Deirdre Staunton of the College of Engineering and the Built Environment at DIT, and one of the organisers of the event, engineering should not be a man's world. “In China, 40% of engineers are women. In Sweden it's 26%.  Although women continue to be underrepresented in the engineering profession here in Ireland, many women have established rewarding and successful careers in the field” states Staunton.

In trying to encourage girls at second level to consider a career in engineering, DIT decided to showcase a number of women working in a wide variety of roles in engineering.  The day long event provided a unique opportunity for the schoolgirls to meet these working women engineers. It allowed them to hear about real career paths and the day to day reality of life as a woman in engineering.

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Student members of DIT WAVES

“It is well-documented that a very effective way of encouraging girls into science, engineering and technology (SET) is through Role Models. In short, girls have to perceive they can be engineers before they can be engineers and nothing conveys that message as effectively as having mentors and role models whose paths they could follow” said Staunton.

The aim of the DIT Role Model Day is to raise awareness that 'engineering is also for girls' by demonstrating the huge potential for women to pursue careers in this field” added Staunton.

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Regina Moran (CEO of Fujitsu Ireland and Chairwoman of ICT Ireland), John Power ((Director General of Engineers Ireland) pictured with some secondary school pupils who attended this event

Among those who addressed the students were current female engineering students, recent graduates and women with years of experience in the field.  Anne Butler, Former President of Engineers Ireland and a founding director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and current a member of the DIT Governing Body formally opened the event.  The second level students then heard from a number of women who have succeeded in both traditional and non-traditional areas of engineering.  They heard about the career path of Regina Moran, Chairwoman of ICT Ireland and CEO of Fujitsu Ireland, Pauline Martin, Senior Quality Engineer, SAP Ireland and Clodagh O Donnell, Director, Information Solutions and Services, Aer Lingus.

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The first ever female engineering graduate of DIT, Caitriona Lambert also shared her story with the second level students.  In her address to the pupils Caitriona, who is now Senior Executive Engineer in South Dublin County Council said; “Engineering has been very good to me and for that reason I think it’s important to share the experience and encourage others to think about it as career.”

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A recent graduate of engineering in DIT, Dr Kirsten Foy also shared her experiences of undertaking a PhD in Mechanical Engineering in DIT.  Finally the second level pupils heard from Eadaoin Cummins, a  3rd year student in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at DIT and Julie Farrelly, a  3rd year student in Civil Engineering at DIT.  Eadaoin and Julie shared their experiences of life as a current student of engineering in DIT.  This wasn’t their first experience of DIT’s Role Model Day.  Both students previously attended the DIT 'Role Model Day' as second level pupils themselves where they were inspired to study engineering in DIT.

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