Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Minister Coveney Announces I WISH Imagines

Minister Coveney Announces I WISH Imagines, the next phase of the I Wish awarding winning initiative promoting STEM Choices, Chances & Changes 

In total more than 2,000 female transition year students will get a taste of what it is like to have a career in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) at the 2 day I WISH conference in City Hall, Cork. Taking place today (Thursday) and tomorrow (Friday), the I WISH event provides introductions to a number of engaging female role models working in a variety of STEM careers with companies such as Dell, Pfizer, TapStack, Technically Write IT, Google and Vodafone. 

“There are not enough women entering into Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) careers.  I WISH aims to highlight the exciting and rewarding careers in STEM and to increase female entrants to third level courses in STEM by 30% by 2020,” said Gillian Keating, Partner at Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors and I WISH co-founder. 

I WISH is an award-winning partnership initiative between Cork Chamber, it@cork, and Cork City Council, supported by Science Foundation Ireland, Dell, Cork County Council, UCC and CIT. The initiative was founded in 2014 by three Cork business women – Gillian Keating, Partner, Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors, Caroline O’Driscoll, Partner, KPMG and Vice Chair of it@Cork and Ruth Buckley, Head of ICT & Business Services at Cork City Council.

Minister for Agriculture, Food, Marine and Defence, Simon Coveney TD welcomed students to the conference and took the opportunity to officially launch I WISH Imagines, a new series of events and opportunities under the I Wish banner. This first I Wish Imagines event will see a selected number of female students getting the opportunity to participate in a deep sea robot building competition, known as a Mechathon. The Mechathon is being hosted in association with Enterprise Ireland and in partnership with Cork Institute of Technology, IMERC, the Irish Naval Service, the MaREI Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy and Tyndall National Institute.  

Speaking at the event Minister Coveney said: “I am delighted to be here this morning at this very special event. It is vitally important to stimulate curiosity and educate young female students to the possibilities of a career in STEM. Ireland’s ‘blue economy’ is developing at a pace and there are fantastic technologies emerging from our research institutes. Underwater robots are driving the exploration of our seas and oceans in ways that were never possible before – today I would like to give four students the opportunity to experience this first-hand by announcing I WISH Imagines. Over the course of this 2-day event four students will be selected to participate in a deep sea robot building competition known as a Mechathon.”

“The winning students will help brainstorm, prototype and build the robot before presenting it at the grand finale which will be held in the world-class UCC Beaufort Building in May. Described as a ‘robot wars under the sea’ this is a truly unique and exciting opportunity and something that will really showcase what a career in STEM could be like,” he added. 

I WISH Imagines is a fantastic opportunity for students to experience what it is like to work on an exciting and innovative STEM project in world-class facilities,” said Ruth Buckley, Head of ICT at Cork City Council & I WISH Co-Founder. 

Niamh Townsend, General Manager at Dell Ireland, spoke about the wide variety of career opportunities that exist in technology and other STEM fields: “At Dell, our approach to creating a diverse workforce has been to ensure that we are bringing together people with differing perspectives and past experiences. We’ve always said that we want to make our workforce resemble our customer base so that the solutions we develop are of use to the many, not just the few. That inclusive approach has been adopted by more and more technology companies, many of whom are actively hiring in Ireland. When it comes to encouraging female participation in STEM careers, we all need to work together to highlight the sheer variety of roles that are available. The technology sector requires those with a development background, but we also look for talented sales people and marketers, among countless other roles. It’s not about fitting the mould or cohering to a stereotype of what someone who works in STEM might look like, but rather putting your own stamp on the position and bringing your ideas and individuality to bear.”  

Irish, European, World and Olympic Boxing Champion, Katie Taylor, was also on hand to meet and talk to students about her experience of being a woman in a male-dominated sport.  She also took to the stage for a frank question and answer session with Barrie O’Connell, President of Cork Chamber and KPMG Partner. 

“I WISH was founded to inspire, encourage and motivate young women to consider careers in STEM where there are traditionally lower levels of female participation. Katie Taylor, as an inspirational Irish woman and Olympic winner, has excelled in a field which was traditionally dominated by men. Students today had the opportunity to hear first-hand from Katie about how she confronted her own personal challenges, including tackling female stereotypes,” said Caroline O’Driscoll, Partner KPMG and co-founder of I Wish.

Commenting at the event Margie McCarthy, Head of Education and Outreach, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support initiatives like IWISH as it is important that we all work together to promote STEM career opportunities to young people and in particular to girls.  Ireland offers significant employment opportunities across a range of STEM sectors and it is vital that our young students are in a position to avail of the exciting futures these sectors offer. We welcome the opportunity to work with partners at IWISH and through the Science Foundation Ireland managed Smart Futures initiatives to introduce young people, career guidance counsellors and parents to all of these options and opportunities.”

The I Wish event will run until Friday 12 February, when the four winners of I WISH Imagines will be announced. For more information, please visit www.iwish.ie