Why don't girls get IT?Posted: 5 February, 2016
With a predicted 50,000 job vacancies predicted for the Information Technology sector in Ireland by 2017, why is it so few females consider IT as a career?
DIT's Women in Science meeting President Higgins and Sabrina Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin recently
Out of almost 118,000 people working in the Science, Engineering and Technology sectors in Ireland, just a quarter are women. It's a complex problem which relates to the way work is structured, public perceptions of gender roles and even gender discrimination. There are no easy answers but none the less it is a problem that needs to be addressed for the sustainability of the IT sector here.
DIT colleagues attended an event for Women in Science at Áras an Uachtaráin on the eve of St. Brigid's Day. In an inspirational speech to those present, President Higgins remarked that
"Women today can choose the subjects and careers they wish to pursue, make their unique and vital inputs at this challenging moment in human history, when scientific research is presenting us with new possibilities to address great challenges"*.
President Higgins also signalled the important role that women in Science and Technology can play in addressing the great challenges of our time.
"The contribution of women in science is all the more valuable as we work to locate science within a paradigm of sustainability. That is emphasised in the challenges set to us by issues such as climate change, global hunger and environmental degradation.'
'Industry is crying out for female Computing graduates because of the perspective and balance they bring to their teams. Female students outperform their male counterparts on average and a Computing degree is a great career choice for females. ' Dr. Deirdre Lillis, Head of Computer Science in DIT says. She also noted that 'Having seen a decade of promotional and marketing campaigns that had limited effects, I believe what's needed to make a breakthrough are initiatives which have more teeth - including fundamental curriculum reform and perhaps even quota-based places for females on computing programmes'
DIT School of Computing is active in many initiatives to encourage female participation in Computer Science including an annual Computing Academy for transition year students, a Women in Computing event for female transition year students and a programme of School visits which runs throughout the year.
Dr. Susan McKeever, programme chair for DIT's flagship BSc in Computer Science progrmame said that "Right now, female school leavers don't see a place for themselves on Computing programmes. They don't feel that they will fit in or have that sense of belonging that is so influential for young people when making their CAO choices. There will be no sea change in female participation until we change that. We now need to offer programmes that specifically spark the interest of female students - and that allow them to see how they can belong, contribute and excel. Interestingly, the females who do take our programmes punch far above their weight on results. Just last year, from a small number of females, two of them won prizes at the Irish Undergraduate Awards for Computer Science, with one of them being the outright national winner. There is so much potential there that we can build on".