Women in Engineering - Role Model Seminar for Girls in Senior Cycle

The Faculty of Engineering of the Dublin Institute of Technology, in association with Women in Technology and Science (WITS) recently hosted its first "WAVES Role Model Seminar" at the Bolton Street campus. The event was intended to encourage young women to consider science and engineering as realistic career choices, and throughout the day more than 200 girls, currently in senior cycle, came to Bolton Street to meet women in Engineering and to hear their experiences of studying and working in the field.

The Faculty of Engineering actively promotes engineering as a career within secondary schools. Members of the faculty visit up to 100 schools each year and make presentations on all engineering disciplines. Recognising that the number of women choosing engineering as a career is still low, the Faculty supported the formation last year of WAVES - a support group for women lecturers and students in Engineering. The Role Model Seminar is the first joint initiative of WAVES and the Faculty to promote the idea of engineering as a realistic and rewarding career choice.

Ms Anne Butler, President of Engineers Ireland and member of DIT's Governing Body, addressing the Role Model Seminar organised by WAVES and the Faculty of Engineering

The role model seminar sought to introduce the young women to engineering through a series of presentations from women engineers working in industry, academia and current students in DIT. As well as presentations and Q&A sessions, the students had an opportunity to "network" with the speakers, giving them the opportunity to discuss engineering as a career in a more relaxed environment.

Invitations to the event were sent to some three hundred schools, and the response was overwhelming. Thirty schools brought 200 senior cycle girls to the seminar, twice the number expected by the organisers in WAVES.

The seminar was introduced by Dr. Mike Murphy, Director and Dean Faculty of Engineering and the importance of the initiative was highlighted by the presence of Ms Anne Butler, President Engineers Ireland who formally launched the event.

The key note speakers were Katie Hogan, a 4th year Electrical Engineering undergraduate from DIT; Amanda McColville a software engineer with Serco; Niamh Joyce, a Mechanical Engineer with Irish Industrial Explosives; Margie McCarthy an Environmental Engineer with STEPS Engineers Ireland; Susan Spelman, a Chemical Engineer with Jacobs Engineering; Ana Fernandez, Deirdre Behan, Michele Dooley and Glenda Stanley - all engineers with Vodafone; and Mags O'Riordan, former projector manager with Intel and currently science teacher at Malahide Comprehensive.

These were supported on the day by 6 DIT engineering lecturers and 6 DIT undergraduates from WAVES.

The fact that so many companies were prepared to facilitate key staff attending the event demonstrates that industry also recognises the importance of introducing more women to engineering as a career.

Feedback from the students, their teachers and the role models who participated in the event has been very positive and it is likely that this is the first of many such seminars hosted by DIT and WAVES.

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