Almost 12,000 female secondary school students from across Ireland and internationally are in attendance at today’s 7th annual I Wish showcase event which kicked off this morning.
Opened by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and hosted by RTÉ Broadcaster Jacqui Hurley, the event highlights the power and possibilities of careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), addressing the concerning lack of females choosing to pursue careers in STEM.
Students have already begun to hear from a host of inspirational speakers from the world of STEM who have shared their stories and experiences including Former President of Ireland and passionate advocate for gender equality, Mary Robinson, CEO of Vodafone Anne O’Leary and Danielle Van Manen of Janssen who spoke with well-known personality Dr Pixie McKenna.
Taking to the virtual stage throughout the day will be several other speakers from multinationals including Deloitte, Dell Technologies, Johnson and Johnson, Arup, VMware, Vodafone and PepsiCo who will enlighten their young listeners about the myriad of opportunities that a STEM career can offer young women.
Due to the acceleration of STEM industries as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s event holds more importance than ever in tackling the gender gap between men and women in STEM according to Gillian Keating, Co-Founder of I Wish.
Speaking about the importance of the event, Gillian Keating of I Wish said, “Over the past year, we have all experienced the rate at which science and technology can improve our lives for the better. With such acceleration and growth in these industries, it’s vital that our next generation of girls are not left behind and that they have the confidence and knowledge to explore the career opportunities available to them. We are delighted to be joined by so many amazing role models today, sharing their inspirational stories with students and showing that there are no limits for girls.”
Speaking ahead of her keynote talk today, Brenda Romero, American BAFTA award-winning Game Designer and Developer said, “I am delighted to be part of today’s I Wish showcase event. Conferences like I WISH give young women and girls the information they need, shining a light on the exciting and rewarding careers within their grasp. Knowledge and awareness are key and it’s wonderful to be able to share an insight into the video game industry and its many career opportunities both here in Ireland and world-wide that I have enjoyed.”
With less than 25% of the STEM workforce in Ireland being female, I Wish aims to break down the barriers of perception that face young females and provide them with valuable information and the confidence to take the next step in choosing a career in STEM. Students will also hear from a number of I Wish Alumni whose interest in STEM was ignited through their attendance at previous I Wish events and are now pursuing careers in STEM. They will share their stories and inspire the next generation of leaders.
With a new international element this year, I Wish is also welcoming students from across the world including the US, Canada and Kenya to today’s event. Later today, the Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed will be introduced to students by the Mayor of Cork City Cllr. Joe Kavanagh as the twin cities come together to spread awareness on this important topic.
To learn more about I Wish and its work in tackling the STEM gap, visit their website at www.iwish.ie.