Minister Harris co-hosts event for new generation of female leadership in science, research and innovation

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today (Wednesday) co-hosted an event aimed at advancing and connecting women in science, technology, engineering and mathematical disciplines.

The event, an industry event with Women in Technology & Science (WITS), brings industry and academic experts together to discuss how to support women into and during their STEM career, and to consider how to develop and advance this into the future.

Speaking at the event, Minister Harris said: “My Department’s agencies, the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland, have been implementing gender initiatives for some time now to support a stronger representation of women in research and in STEM.

“We have made good progress in recent years, and Ireland has been steadily moving up the international rankings, with 47% of all researchers in the higher education sector in Ireland being women.

“But we have a long way to go, and events like today’s, where we bring academia, industry and Government together to take action and improve women’s access to and participation in STEM are vital.

“COVID-19 has taught us the value and importance of science and I have no doubt it will inspire a new generation of female leadership in science, research and innovation. But we must ensure we work together – Government and industry – to support women to engage in STEM and today’s conversation is an important start.”

The event featured four spotlight sessions:

  • CONVENE: An Accelerated Skills Hub for Aspiring Female Leaders in Digital Transformation, which aims to address the ‘Glass Ceiling’ challenge – increasing the percentage of women transitioning from middle to senior management roles.
  • Women Returners Digital Hub, which focused on work to develop an online centralised platform which will support women at all digital literacy levels and act as a portal for companies to access a new talent pipeline. The platform will provide free guidance and toolkits to IT returners, new IT entrants and organisations to provide accessible pathways to restart and develop their career in tech.
  • A Framework to Identify High-Potential Women & Support them onto the First-Rung of the Leadership Ladder.  This session heard from Engineers Ireland, UL and ESB, sharing best practice and discussing a comprehensive framework to identify and support women onto the first rung of the leadership ladder.
  • STEM Skills Passport For Inclusion.  This spotlight discussed a potential project to meaningfully support 1000 working-class girls to progress into STEM courses and careers, with mentoring, teaching, course mapping and work experience.

Dr Andrea C Johnson, Chair of Women in Technology and Science said: “”Women In Technology and Science Ireland (WITS) adopted an ambition 5 year strategic vision in 2020 to advance the retention and development of women in STEM by researching, sharing insights and developing best practice. This event brings policy-makers, industry and academic experts together to spotlight the initiatives that already exist and consider next steps to move this important agenda forward. We’re delighted to work with Minister Harris on this and look forward to continuing our partnership.”