Regional Chair, Ireland & SVP Technology, Fidelity Investments
Head of FI Technology, Ireland, Fidelity Investments
Senior Software Engineer, Fidelity Investments
Companies can boost female representation in STEM through educational programmes, leadership programmes and community-based initiatives aiming to make tech careers more visible.
Encouraging more diversity in the tech sector brings value to both women and organisations. As Lorna Martyn, Regional Chair and Senior Vice President at Fidelity Investments, says: “We know that in gender-diverse teams, creativity, productivity and profitability all benefit.”
Representing women in technology
Although there are increasingly more women in STEM careers, it remains a male-dominated environment. One way of addressing the gender imbalance is by engaging and educating the community through school and university programmes with spokeswomen who share experience working in the sector.
Margaret O’Halloran, Head of FI Technology at financial investment company Fidelity Investments, says: “Representation is absolutely key. In our industry, we need to be out there and be representative as females in technology and show why it’s great to work in STEM. We bring a lot of students into the workplace for them to see what we do, but also to meet role models.”
Role models play an important part in encouraging women in STEM, as Oluchi Anyabuike, Senior Software Engineer at the company, discovered throughout her professional trajectory. “I had the opportunity to shadow a senior manager in Galway, and that really opened my eyes to the breadth of roles available in tech. Having that early exposure was crucial to me and made me put computer science at the top of my list versus biomedical engineering.”
Personal development is paramount to us, soOluchi Anyabuike
there’s ongoing educational support no
matter what career stage you are on.
Bringing STEM awareness to classrooms
Establishing community-centred partnerships can enhance the visibility of STEM and computer science careers for women. Fidelity Investments has partnered with several schools and organisations focused on improving female representation. Their programme Root2STEM, for example, aims to inspire students across Ireland to pursue STEM careers, and 70% of the incoming participants are female.
“We start at the primary school level to educate what STEM careers mean, what the opportunities are and break down a lot of stereotypes of STEM being individualistic with a high degree of mathematical knowledge. Careers in tech couldn’t be more different. It is very team-focused and diverse,” says Martyn.
Another connection is with the University of Galway around a programme called Code Plus, which brings code opportunities into the classroom, especially for girls. It aims to bridge the gap in the west of Ireland — where females account for less than 20% of ICT graduates — by elevating computer science career possibilities for young women.
Carving pathways and providing options
Providing space for experimenting with different careers in STEM can help young women decide what path they wish to pursue. Apprenticeships, for example, can offer valuable professional experience while learning key skills on the job. The investment company sponsors apprentices through a two-year programme, with a particular focus on getting women onboard. “It’s a great pathway into technology because it’s an earn-as-you-learn model,” says Martyn.
Apprentices benefit from a blend of education and work experience, with the chance of being employed at the end of it. “We have a number of full-time associates who have progressed through that pipeline, and we see that as a rich opportunity to bring more females into the organisation,” adds Martyn.
Retaining talent with the flexibility to learn
Once companies have attracted female talent, the focus switches to retaining, empowering and developing them. This includes promoting lifelong learning opportunities and encouraging career progression at all levels across the organisation.
“Personal development is paramount to us, so there’s ongoing educational support no matter what career stage you are on. We have learning days where, every two weeks, you get a day for yourself to expand your skills by becoming more proficient in the technologies you’re using or learning something completely different,” says Anyabuike.