Friday, 31 October 2014

Successful Launch of the UCD EGA Report on "Towards Gender Balance in Engineering"


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.
At the launch of UCD EGA Report on Gender Balance in Engineering were front row:  PJ Rudden, UCD EGA President,
Regina Moran, President Engineers Ireland, back row: John Power, Director General Engineers Ireland, Professor Orla Feely,
Vice President UCD, Michael Loughnane, Author EGA Report and Professor David Fitzpatrick, UCD Dean of Engineering

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'.
Senior Water Engineers with RPS Roisin Doherty and Fionnuala Coonan
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'.

Catherine Lynch, UCD Gender Equality Officer and Jilli Reilly, UCD Engineering

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

Thursday, 9 October 2014

We Need More Female Engineers!

Last year the UCD EGA were concerned  that in 2013 the number of females entering First Engineering had fallen below the average 20% which had become the recent norm.

As a response we decided to commission a Report on Better Gender Balance chaired by my EGA predecessor Michael Loughnane who is also ESB Manager of Organisation Development. Indeed 20% in itself is too low a figure to service our modern growing economy. While the gender balance in UCD First Engineering has recovered somewhat in 2014, nevertheless we decided to complete and publish our Report with Recommendations towards raising gender balance in UCD Engineering.  Assisting Michael with the Report were Ann Fingleton, Dr. Aisling Harkin, Killian McKenna and Louise McGuinness.
Michael Loughnane
A low gender balance in Engineering is not confined to UCD or to Ireland. It is a worldwide phenomenon. Engineers Ireland is also very engaged on this subject currently as it is a major theme of Regina Moran current President and CEO of Fujitsu Ireland. Yesterday Engineers Ireland staged a major interactive event 'Engineering Your Future: Women in Engineering' to inspire young women to consider engineering as a career led by Regina.
Regina Moran

'With Ireland facing a shortage of skilled engineering talent and with a ratio of 9:1 men to women in the industry, women remain an untapped resource in our profession' said Moran who is a chartered engineer.

To help inspire both males and females towards engineering as a profession, it is no coincidence that in today's fast moving high tech world, that the current Presidents of UCD, TCD, NUIG, DCU and DIT are all engineers.
Around 118,000 people are working in jobs that use the STEM skills but the proportion of women employed is less than 25% according to the Central Statistics Office. That's further proof of this tremendous national resource loss to the economy.

UCD EGA will be launching our new Report on Better Gender Balance at a Breakfast Briefing in Belfield at 8am on October 30th next. We are pleased to have as speakers the Main Author of the Report Michael Loughnane, Regina Moran President of Engineers Ireland and UCD's Vice President for Research Innovation and Impact Professor Orla Feely.
Orla Feely
All three speakers have a tremendous reservoir of practical knowledge in the whole sphere of gender balance in engineering and will draw a large audience.

All Second Level School Principals and career guidance teachers from the Greater Dublin region will be invited to attend together with EGA members, UCD staff and students. Continential breakfast will be served on the top floor of the Engineering Building from 7.45am and all are welcome. Both Professor David Fitzpatrick Dean of Engineering and myself will attend and take part in the proceedings.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

New EU Commissioner Hogan to address UCD EGA on first Official Visit to Ireland

UCD EGA are delighted we are hosting EU Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan's on his first official visit to Ireland as Commissioner on November 20th next.
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan
He has agreed to lead our Autumn Panel Discussion on "Future Challenges to Food Production in Europe" together with a Panel of Experts drawn from the various stakeholders in the Irish Food Industry.

The Panel will include Professor Dolores O'Riordan Director of the UCD Institute of Food and Health, Eddie Downey IFA President, Dr Larry O'Connell Senior Economist National Economic and Social Council  Author of NESC Report on Climate Change and Transition to a Low Carbon Economy for the Irish Government and Seán Molloy Glanbia Director of Strategy.

Dolores O' Riordan, Director,
UCD Institute of Food & Health

Eddie Downey,
President IFA

Larry O' Connell, Senior Economist,
National Economic & Social Council (NESC)

Seán Molloy, Glanbia Director
of Strategy

At his very successful confirmation hearing last week in the European Parliament Commissioner Designate Hogan stated that 'Farming in Europe presents many challenges not least in terms of ensuring food security, preserving the environment and protecting the countryside but also dealing with climate change and the need to provide a fair and stable standard of living for farmers'.

In addition the new Commissioner will have to consider the planned Mid Term Review of the revised Common Agricultural Policy (adopted in 2013 under the Irish Presidency), the current Russian food ban against EU sanctions over Ukraine, the ongoing EU-US trade talks under the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and many other issues.

While each Commissioner Designate is currently before European Parliament Hearings the entire Commission as a whole must resubmit to a EP plenary for a vote approving of the Commission College on October 21st followed by approval vote of the European Council on October 23rd next. The new Juncker Commission will then assume office on November 1st 2014.

For that reason there can be no 'events' involving Commissioners until November 1st after which each Commissioner will then settle into their new roles and familiarise themselves with the staff and workings of the Commission.

We are therefore extremely fortunate and grateful to Commissioner Designate Hogan for agreeing to lead the UCD EGA Panel Discussion on November 20th next on his first visit to Ireland post appointment. We look forward to an excellent attendance in the Clinton Auditorium on this critical European topic for the Food Industry and Consumers alike.