Big push on to correct the gender imbalance in engineering

Addressing the Gender Imbalance in Engineering: A Strong Push in Ireland

Engineering enthusiasts across the country are embracing Engineers Week, an event filled with workshops and activities that celebrate the captivating world of engineering in Ireland.

The week aims to inspire young individuals, their teachers, and parents to explore the exciting realm of engineering and the numerous career prospects it offers.

One pressing concern in the Irish engineering landscape is the persistent gender imbalance. This disparity is evident throughout the education system, from secondary to tertiary levels, specifically concerning students choosing STEM subjects.

At the tertiary level, in 2016, more than 80% of graduates in engineering, manufacturing, and construction were male, with a slightly lower proportion of males—almost 80%—in information and communication technologies.

Furthermore, at the secondary level, only a meager 20% of female Leaving Cert candidates opted for physics or chemistry in 2017.

Although these figures are disconcerting, there is a determined effort to boost female enrollment in STEM subjects. Reforms to the college entry system, rewarding students for undertaking higher-level exams, have begun to yield results. Statistics from the State Examinations Commission indicate that a greater proportion of girls than boys moved up to higher-level exams in the three primary science subjects in 2017.

For example, there was an 11% increase in girls taking higher-level physics compared to the previous year, compared to a mere 2% increase for boys. Similarly, the number of girls taking higher-level chemistry rose by 9% from 2016, while boys showed a 4% increase. In biology, 6.5% more girls pursued higher-level studies, with a 4.8% rise among boys.

Higher-level maths now attracts equal numbers of girls and boys, although boys still outperform girls in terms of achieving higher grades. Nonetheless, these figures offer promising signs of progress.

Various initiatives, such as Engineers Week, SciFest, the BT Young Scientist Exhibition, and I Wish STEM, play a pivotal role in encouraging female participation in STEM subjects. They engage schools and students, showcasing the excitement and fulfillment that STEM-related careers can offer.

The government has also increased its investment in promoting and educating students about STEM subjects, allocating nearly €4.5 million this year to support these endeavors. The 10-year plan launched in November of the previous year aims to significantly boost the uptake of STEM subjects, targeting a 40% increase in female participation.

As part of this initiative, efforts are underway to cultivate an interest in STEM among children as young as preschool age. Additionally, computer coding is being introduced at the primary school level, while computer science is now an available option for the Leaving Cert curriculum.

While the gender imbalance remains a concern, Ireland is undoubtedly making strides towards fostering greater female participation in STEM subjects and, consequently, the field of engineering.

To learn more about the multitude of exceptional opportunities within the realm of engineering, please contact HERO Recruitment Galway at (091) 730022, Cork at (021) 2066287, or Dublin at (091) 6190279. Alternatively, you can reach out via email at or connect with HERO on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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