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Teachers have a potential to help increase female participation in STEM

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Dr Shalini Hollingum

STInt Programme Industry Liaison, Connecting Women in Tech

Dr Jennifer McKenna

STInt Programme Industry Liaison, Connecting Women in Tech

If we want more women in STEM, we need to get to them younger and teachers can help us achieve that goal.


The shortage of tech talent is a widely discussed topic. It is becoming even more pronounced as businesses across all sectors have increased the adoption of emerging technologies to drive innovation, whilst recovering from the pandemic. 

The talent shortage is seen as the most significant adoption barrier to 64% of emerging technologies, compared with just 4% in 2020. This indicates that as the demand for these technologies accelerates the lack of suitable workers to support the digital transformation will be problematic at some point.

Supporting tech talent pipeline

Ireland has a strong reputation in the technology space. Large multinationals continue to invest significantly attracted by the people, culture and strong talent pools. We must ensure that we continue to educate graduates with the necessary skills to allow Ireland to realise its full potential and this requires more people to pursue third-level STEM studies, to maintain the future talent pipeline.

A teacher can help increase interest in STEM

The Government’s Gender Balance in STEM report highlights that there is no single intervention to achieve gender equality, rather multiple mediations are needed to effect the change required. Teachers are one of the biggest influences in young girls’ lives. A recent report from Accenture confirmed that teachers agree that students are more likely to study STEM subjects if they know the career or job prospects available thereafter. We need to help reframe teacher’s mindsets around STEM subjects.

A relatively small investment from each company into a paid 12- week internship for a teacher could lead to thousands of students pursuing STEM.

Claire McEvoy

Paid internships for pre-service teachers

The DCU STEM Teacher Internship Programme equips teachers at primary and secondary level so they can speak authentically about pursuing STEM subjects and careers. “Since the pilot in 2016, which offered five roles in Accenture, the programme has scaled in 2021 to 45 pre-service teachers from three universities completing internships across 25 organisations, half of which are CWiT members,.” says Claire McEvoy, STInt Programme Manager. 

How can the industry support education?

It takes time for any intervention to create the desired impact, but the scaling factor is a game changer. With the ambitious target to increase the number of females taking STEM subjects for Leaving Certificate by 40%, we need more tech companies to participate in the programme to realise this change by 2026. “A relatively small investment from each company into a paid 12- week internship for a teacher could lead to thousands of students pursuing STEM,” adds Ms McEvoy.

If your company wants to participate in the programme in 2022, please visit stemteacherinternships.ie

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