Women are vastly under-represented in the construction and STEM sectors. The CSO estimates that only 5.5% of the workforce across all construction related sectors are women.
This is coupled with a skills shortage in the construction industry which are both major barriers to continued growth within the sector.
I have previously spent a great deal of my life working with young people from disadvantaged areas in the youth work sector. I wanted to inspire the young people to see beyond their circumstances. I met some incredible girls with high aptitude for Math and Engineering but did not have the home support or the school mentors to help them develop their talents further. I set up classes for these girls not only to teach but to encourage and inspire them to further their development in the field. Coding, engineering and science camps are extremely expensive and not accessible to many children in Ireland. There is little done to promote these vital skills in the community and a lack of training in university to encourage more youth and community workers to teach science outside of school with more focus being placed on training soft skills. It is even hard to believe that The first Leaving Certificate exams in computer science was only introduced in 2020 and to this day there are very few schools that offer this subject for the leaving cert.
If we continue to excuse large sections of the population from STEM then sooner then later we will see a massive decline especially in the construction industry.
What can we do?
- Inspire girls in school and give them the confidence to succeed in math, science, engineering and computer science.
- Put a greater value on engineering and construction as part of STEM training in youth and community work.
- Attract and recruit women into construction and STEM.
- Improve job hiring, retention and promotion pathways for all.