DIT tackling gender gap

DIT has announced that it is to launch a mentorship programme for female engineering students, pairing students with successful women mentors from two of the largest multinational engineering companies in Ireland: Arup and Schneider Electric.

The goal of the mentorship programme is to provide female students with role models who can offer guidance about career opportunities in engineering, provide support and tools for navigating this male-dominated industry, and entice more young women into the field.

Both Arup and Schneider Electric promote gender equality in the workplace and have developed initiatives to enable more women to be successful in the field.

“It’s important to provide that extra layer of support because there are so few women in engineering. We want young female students to know that the STEM subjects are achievable subjects. Being a woman and being an engineer is absolutely possible.” Leslie Shoemaker, Programme Facilitator in the DIT College of Engineering and Built Environment

“At Schneider Electric, diversity is an integral part of our history, culture, and identity. We want to create an inclusive culture where all forms of diversity are seen as real value for the company. We all know, gender diversity and equality is no more an option but a business imperative. Mark Keogh, VP for Partner & Industry, Schneider Electric

“The gender gap in STEM, especially in Engineering is always too large and addressing this problem will be a priority until it’s not. As a DIT graduate, I am very much looking forward to contributing to this programme as a mentor.” Sanchir Egan, Design Engineer, Arup.

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Stephen Robinson, a Senior Engineer with Arup, has been volunteering with DIT for a number of years, bridging the link between academia and industry: “As a proud alumni of DIT and an Electrical Engineer at Arup I am very proud to be a part of this initiative. We have some fantastic female role models in Arup and I know the DIT students will benefit from their knowledge and experience. We have a long way to go but this is definitely a step in the right direction towards bridging the gender gap in our industry.” 

The structured mentoring programme, which goes by the name of ESTeEM (Equality in Science and Technology by Engaged Engineering Mentoring) consists of events throughout the academic year covering themes such as the building blocks for a successful career in engineering, the range of jobs available, soft skills and technical skills, obstacles facing engineers. Arup plans to host additional events for the mentees in its offices on Ringsend Road, giving students the opportunity to experience the everyday realities of working as an engineer. 

DIT is very strong in the so-called STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, with 40% of current students enrolled in STEM programmes. The objective is to ensure that a solid proportion of those are female, to help counter the overall trend in Ireland whereby female students are under-represented in STEM, and particularly in Engineering.

The programme will launch this September and will be offered to first-year female engineering students on a select number of courses, including the BE Engineering, the common entry point for the majority of undergraduate engineering degrees at DIT.

Shoemaker hopes to see this programme grow so that every female engineering student in the Institute will be matched with an industry mentor for the duration of their studies in DIT. “We need to tackle the gender gap in Engineering. We need more young women to work in the field, they have an invaluable role to play in this industry.”