Trinity School of Engineering Professor addresses Roundtable Discussion on the Future of STEM and Gender in Irish Education
21 April 2023
Trinity College Dublin's School of Engineering has been making headlines recently, as Dr Sarah Mc Cormack, a Professor in Sustainable Energy at the Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering, was invited to speak to the Oireachtas on the topic of STEM and gender in education.
On April 18th, Dr Mc Cormack delivered a powerful speech to the Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, where she highlighted the urgent need to address the gender imbalance in STEM fields. The transcript of her talk is available online, and has been widely circulated on social media and news outlets.
During her talk, Dr Mc Cormack discussed the reasons behind the gender gap in STEM education and careers, and proposed several solutions to address the issue. She stressed the importance of early intervention in schools, and highlighted the need for more female role models in STEM fields to inspire the next generation of young girls.
Dr Mc Cormack's speech has been widely praised by members of the Oireachtas, as well as academics and professionals in the field of STEM education. Her insights and recommendations will undoubtedly have a significant impact on future policy and initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality in STEM.
Dr Sarah McCormack highlighted some of the obstacles facing female students studying Stem subjects at the committee meeting. Dr McCormack commented that females, just like their male counterparts, have the aptitude and potential to excel in STEM fields but often face societal and cultural barriers that discourage them from pursuing these subjects.
Dr McCormack stated:
“Stereotypes and biases that suggest STEM is ‘for boys’ or that girls are not as capable in these areas can limit their interest and participation.”
While women make up about 20-30 per cent of students in Trinity’s undergraduate engineering courses, they tend to do better, achieving higher degree results and higher completion rates. For example, while 64 per cent of men completed their engineering courses in 2017-18, it was more than 90 per cent for women.
Dr McCormack further commented:
“By actively encouraging girls to pursue STEM subjects in secondary schools, we can create a strong pipeline of female students who are prepared to pursue STEM careers, thus closing the gender gap and ensuring that girls have the same opportunities as boys to explore, learn and excel in these fields”
Trinity College Dublin's School of Engineering is proud to have Dr Mc Cormack as a member of their faculty, and will continue to support her important work in promoting diversity and inclusivity in STEM education and careers.
Watch the Roundtable Discussion on the Future of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) in Irish Education.
Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.