Outdated attitudes still an obstacle to women in engineering, says Engineers Ireland head
07 March 2017
The NUI Galway event marked the naming of the Alice Perry Engineering Building, which celebrates the first woman in Ireland and the UK to earn an engineering degree
Over 86% of engineers believe parents and school teachers can do more to break down the societal barriers to girls studying subjects that support careers in engineering, an Engineers Ireland survey has revealed. The survey also found that more than half believed that outdated attitudes, among both women and men generally, are still obstacles to women entering the engineering sector.
The findings were revealed by Engineers Ireland at an NUI Galway event, as part of Engineers Week 2017, to mark the official naming of the Alice Perry Engineering Building which celebrates the first woman in Ireland and the UK to earn a degree in engineering.
Caroline Spillane, director general of Engineers Ireland and the first woman to hold the role, said that new ways needed to be found to attract more women into the sector. “The statistics in Ireland are stark: if you’re in a room with ten engineers, the likelihood is just one will be female,” she said. “Women largely remain an untapped resource in the engineering profession and our survey of our members highlights the view within the sector that more can be done by all of us – parents, teachers and society generally – to break down the barriers to girls entering the industry.
“Ireland’s engineers are at the forefront of the global tech sector, with companies like Medtronic, Boston Scientific, IBM, Oracle, Cisco and SAP hugely vibrant here in Galway. But for Ireland to remain strong in this area at a time when global competition is fierce, the gender imbalance in engineering badly needs to be tackled or we’ll miss the clear opportunity that exists to harness the very specific creativity and innovation skills that are the hallmark of female engineers.
“It’s these skills, combined with a formidable intellect and remarkable work ethic, that Alice Perry displayed in abundance across her illustrious engineering career, so I am truly honoured as the Director General of Engineers Ireland to be here at NUI Galway today on this poignant occasion as part of Engineers Week 2017,” added Spillane.
Prof Anne Scott, vice president for equality and diversity at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with Engineers Ireland on this important event during Engineers Week. This week in NUI Galway is also being celebrated as International Women’s Week. We’re enormously proud of Alice Perry and what her life’s work symbolises. Decisions on career paths are shaped by the world around us. Having a visible tribute to the achievements of trailblazers like Alice Perry on campus can serve to both recognise an individual legacy and also to inspire the next generation when they make their own career decisions.”
Alice Perry, a graduate of the then Queen’s College Galway, was the first woman in Ireland or the UK to earn a degree in engineering and the only woman still to have served as a county engineer in Ireland. The naming of the building is the culmination of a series of activities focusing on equality and diversity in engineering at NUI Galway’s award-winning engineering building. The events include a public exhibition featuring exciting research projects underway at NUI Galway and a roundtable symposium, Full STE(A)M Ahead – Engineering for all: supporting engineering talent and diversity for a better society, which was chaired by TV and radio broadcaster Jonathan McCrea.
Now in its 11th year, Engineers Week is an annual campaign to inspire the next generation of engineers and excite students about the possibilities a career in engineering can offer running until March 10. With over 680 events and 58,000 participants involved across the week, the campaign is coordinated on a national basis by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme – funded as a strategic partner of Science Foundation Ireland’s Smart Futures Programme.
The Engineers Ireland survey of members was undertaken last week and involved a sample of 3,000 member engineers across Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. To find out more about Engineers Week events taking place around the country visit www.engineersweek.ie.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2017/03/07/outdated-attitudes-still-obstacle-women-entering-engineering-says-engineers-ireland-head/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/alice-perry-building.pnghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/alice-perry-building-300x300.pngNewsEngineers Ireland,engineers week,NUI Galway,women in engineering