In this morning's Irish Times Supplement 'The Future of Engineering' Taoiseach Enda Kenny tells us 'We are surrounded by great Irish engineers everyday. Engineering is for everyone. The creativity and problem solving that form the core of engineering benefit society as a whole'.
Its great to hear this appreciation from our head of government and that's why yesterday's launch of our EGA Report 'Towards Gender Balance in Engineering' was such an important national event. I found the occasion a hugely optimistic and uplifting event thanks to our three outstanding Speakers Michael Loughnane Main Author of EGA Report, Regina Moran President of Engineers Ireland and Professor Orla Feely UCD Vice President of Research Innovation and Impact.
Each speaker laid the challenges and the opportunities in the current gender issue in engineering firmly on the line for the large attendance at our Business Breakfast in the UCD Engineering and Materials Centre.
Michael Loughnane outlined the stark facts in the Report of his EGA Board Subcommittee. He quoted Warren Buffett business guru in the US 'The key to America's future success lies in helping women achieve as much as their male counterparts'.
In UCD we have the international norm of approx 20% females which we know drops to slightly less than 10% in professional career roles. In the US research has shown that female engineers leave their professional role at a rate four times that of doctors, three and half times that of lawyers and judges and 15 - 30% more than nurses and college teachers. 30 - 35% is the critical tipping point which if reached in an organisation can be more easily built upon. Motivation appears to be the primary factor that determines entry by females into and indeed exit from the profession.
|PJ Rudden EGA President with Roisin Bradford Irish Water, AnnMarie McCague, Commission for|
Energy Regulation and Robyn Kelly, Murphy Group
Michael's recommendations are wide ranging incl working in close cooperation with Engineers Ireland, awarding engineering student highest Leaving Cert marks in Maths Physics and Chemistry with UCD EGA Gold Medals, presentations to secondary schools to create better subject choice and broadening the appeal of engineering as a rewarding career. He also recommended creation of a new "Getting More Women into Engineering @ UCD" initiative by the UCD EGA supported by a poster campaign around schools.
|Dr Patricia Kieran, UCD Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering responds to |
a question on female engineer internships
Regina Moran stated 'Girls can change the world through engineering' and instanced all of the global challenges we face that females engineers could assist in resolving incl water, energy and biomedical engineering. 'We need to run an unyielding campaign' she said 'at least until we reach the 35% tippling point and we are a long way off currently'. There was also until now at least a lack of female role models to whom young girls can aspire, she added.
|The three Speakers with EGA President|
Orla Feely was equally inspiring 'with more female engineers we need to capture the social dimension for the good of society - we are losing out on what can be achieved. Women are not properly represented in areas of engineering that are so important to our economy. It comes down to fairness - if we don't convey the attractiveness and importance of engineering, we are failing young girls. We are also failing women if they are not being supported to stay with the sector'.
Feely pointed out current role models like Regina Moran, Ann Kelleher of Intel and Dr Patricia Kieran of Chemical Engineering in UCD who are now in a position to influence and inspire young women. 'We have a window of opportunity just now. Even over the past 12 months we have an extraordinary array of Irish women appointed to senior positions in Ireland and internationally. I think we should be able to make considerable headway' she concluded.
|UCD Dean of Engineering, Professor David Fitzpatrick responds to the discussion|
UCD Dean of Engineering then committed UCD Engineering to addressing the issues raised to explore how best to raise gender balance and to work with the EGA and Engineers Ireland towards that goal.
|Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD, Professor David Fitzpatrick UCD Dean of Engineering |
and Tina Pittock, ESBI Senior Consultant
It was a fanastic event with an impressive turnout. Though it was not held at an ideal time for second level schools I spotted the Principal of Loreto Abbey Dalkey Robert Dunne as was the newly appointed UCD Gender Equality Officer Catherine Lynch. Local TD former Principal of Harold NS Glasthule and educationalist Mary Mitchell O'Connor attended and showed huge interest in the subject. Also present was Director General of Engineers Ireland John Power Editor of the Engineers Journal Mary Anne Carrigan and Kelley Cousins Press and PR Officer.
|Kelley Cousins and Mary Anne Carrigan of Engineers Ireland with Cormac Bradley, RPS|
In the midst of all the youthful faces I felt deeply honoured to see the attendance of Dr Tom Hardiman former Director General of RTE who was the first President of UCD Engineering Graduates Association in 1983 - 1985. Tom was and still is a high profile figure obviously carefully chosen at the time by the EGA Founder Professor John Kelly. I won't hazard a guess at Tom's age but was very impressed to see that he recently addressed the Asia Pacific Ireland Business Forum in Dublin last year!
|Engineers Ireland Director General, John Power and President Regina Moran|