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Home » Women in STEM » An industry-academic collaboration is enabling future software engineers

Sinéad Pillion

Head of Programs & Operations, PDU OSS, Ericsson Ireland

Paul Hourican

PDU OSS Resource Manager, Ericsson Ireland

Barbara Quinn

INFUSE Project Manager, Ericsson Ireland

The outdated notion that software engineering is a career for males is being disproved by the success of female software engineers.

It is a common misconception that software engineering is a career only for boys – or you must have a primary degree in science or engineering to be successful in the STEM workplace.

This is the view of Sinéad Pillion, Head of Programs and Operations at Ericsson, Athlone. Sinéad completed a BCom degree in UCD followed by a STEM conversion course at AIT (now TUS), before starting her career.

Now a member of the leadership team in Athlone, Sinéad is invested in ensuring the site continuously attracts and grows their female talent by driving diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives that encourage females to progress and develop their careers. These supportive initiatives are paying off, she says, with the number of women in leadership roles on the site rising dramatically in recent years.

Prioritising a diverse and inclusive workforce

The Athlone Software Campus has a large and highly skilled workforce focusing on e2e product development in cloud native, cloud RAN, automation, analytics, AI/ML, DevOps and orchestration technologies. This incredibly diverse workforce comprises of more than 1,200 employees (21% female, 48 different nationalities), 1,000 of whom work in agile software engineering teams. This vibrant and dynamic working environment fosters continuous learning and innovation.

The pipeline of graduates from this master’s program has created a thriving software engineering ecosystem. 

Academic partnerships

Ericsson Athlone encourages and supports females through its sponsored STEM conversion master’s programme in Applied Software Engineering, in partnership with Technological University of the Shannon (TUS). The content of the masters is jointly developed with TUS, ensuring it covers the latest technologies needed by candidates starting their software careers.

Anyone interested in applying for this master’s program can do so via Technology Ireland ICT SkillNet. Applicants must have a primary degree (anything from music to physics) and an aptitude for problem solving. The course starts in May and runs for 15 months, which includes a three month internship.

Successful graduates are hired each year, 40% of which are female. The pipeline of graduates from this master’s program has created a thriving software engineering ecosystem.

STEM is for everyone

In addition, Ericsson has set up its award winning INFUSE programme to encourage and motivate young people to pursue a career in software engineering. This highly successful programme especially seeks to engage schoolgirls – at both primary and secondary level – to experience software engineering.

At primary level, children are shown the fun of problem solving, and learn the basics of how to build websites and computer games. This early engagement often leads girls to want to take on STEM subjects in secondary school – computers, science and maths.

At secondary, the girls are further encouraged down the STEM pathway through career talks and work experience programmes. The important message to get across to young girls is: “If you see it, you can be it!” Jobs in software engineering are not just for boys!

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