A recent report from Engineers Ireland found that women make up that less that 12% of engineers in Ireland. ‘Engineering 2018’ urged employers to do more to target the recruitment of female talent to create a more diverse work-force and enhance innovation potential.
Roughan & O’Donovan decided to address the challenge directly and, as part of its Engineers Week activities, visited St. Raphaela’s all-girls secondary school in Stillorgan to talk to the students about the work of civil engineers.
The six visiting engineers and the class of transition-year students had a wide-ranging and lively discussion covering everything from the range of disciplines within civil engineering to the experience of working on-site and the research opportunities available to engineers.
But it wasn’t all talk. The girls were also given several technical tasks to complete – one involving the design of a highway interchange and the other introducing the basic concepts behind beam design.
With a little encouragement, the girls succeeded in working through the technical challenges they were set and, in the process, learned how engineers can solve everyday construction and road design challenges by thinking creatively.
The response from the students was overwhelmingly positive with comments ranging from ‘I really loved the practical experiments as it puts engineering into perspective’ to ‘I was really interested in the transport section because you have to really think about different solutions to everyday problems.’
For Roughan & O’Donovan’s Managing Director, Harry Meighan, the visit showed just how important it is to speak to girls – and not just boys – about the exciting experiences and bright job prospects on offer in engineering.
If, as employers, we are serious about increasing the number of females in the profession, we can’t just leave it to parents and teachers to tackle the challenge for us; a concerted effort is needed.