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Home » Women in STEM » Why a career in the armed forces is rewarding and varied

Lieutenant Eva Finn

Platoon Commander, 2 Brigade CIS, Irish Defence Forces

Apprentice Sarah Murray

Apprentice Aircraft Maintenance Technician, Irish Air Corps

Apprentice Kara Foley

Petty Officer Radio Radar Technician, Navy

The Irish Defence Forces have long been a realm of opportunity, challenge and growth, particularly for women in STEM roles. Highlighting their unique paths and perspectives, three women share their experiences.

What is your career like in the Defence Forces?

Sarah Murray (SM): I joined the force and started the technician apprenticeship immediately. I am now moving up to No.4 Support Wing to be an avionics technician, which means I’ll be working on the electronics of aircraft. For the past four years, we’ve been sitting exams with the European Aviation Safety Authority.

Kara Foley (KF): Currently, I am a technician responsible for the installation, maintenance and upkeep of all the radio and navigation equipment on board, LE W.B. Yeats, as well as the entertainment equipment like the TV system, the ship’s welfare internet and the Wi-Fi facilities. It’s a very varied role.

Each ship within the Naval Service has one position for a Radio Radar Technician on board. Knowing that I am the only person responsible for the navigation and communications equipment can be daunting, but when something breaks and I fix it, enabling the ship to sail again, I get an enormous sense of pride. I’m honoured to ensure the ship’s operational readiness.

What inspired you to take this career path?

Eva Finn (EF): What inspired me to join the Defence Forces was watching my family and friends thrive — seeing the opportunities they had by joining. Both of my older brothers enlisted and my uncle, too. So, I had a firsthand look at just how far you could go and how much you could achieve.

It’s currently putting me through college. I specialise in CIS, which is the Communication Information Service and is responsible for the development and operation of information technology systems. As technology develops, CIS plays a huge role. Being able to combine my two interests — technology and the military — was just huge for me.

SM: I think I always knew I wanted to work with my hands — to fix things. Apparently, I used to follow my granddad around when he was working on mechanical jobs around the house. Meanwhile, my father is a blacksmith, so I grew up watching them work. Unfortunately, in my all-girls school, there weren’t any technical subjects available to me at the time. I knew I didn’t want a desk job and, by chance, I started working with cars. That childhood interest in mechanical work led me here.

KF: I wanted a job that would challenge me both mentally and physically, which is why I joined the Navy. I started my career as a communications operative and began to see how the equipment I used daily worked.

The time has flown by, but it’s
that passion that has kept me here.

Lieutenant Eva Finn

What would you advise those considering a Defence Forces career?

EF: You have to prepare yourself for the mentally and physically challenging bits that will come. The fitness test is at the top of that list, and you have to really prepare for that. However, your peers and your colleagues are always there to help and pull you through. We get through everything together.

My biggest piece of advice to anyone is to make sure you love what you do. I adore my job and studies. I’ve been here five years now. The time has flown by, but it’s that passion that has kept me here.

SM: It’s so important to find something you’re passionate about. Being part of the Irish Defence Forces also gives you a great work/life balance, which is also vital to having a happy and fulfilling career.

How can more women and girls be inspired into STEM?

KF: More needs to be done in school to inspire more women to seek careers in STEM. More emphasis needs to be placed on maths in schools because most technical careers involve a lot of it. It would also be beneficial if schools introduced technical workshops and on-site company visits aimed at STEM, especially for girls.

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