KPMG is a founding partner of I Wish (Inspiring Women in STEM), an initiative to encourage female secondary school students to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
According to KPMG’s Cork based Caroline O’Driscoll, who leads our involvement in the I Wish initiative: “Too few women in Ireland study science, technology, engineering or mathematics. In 2014 only one in six (17 percent) entrants to third level courses in ICT were female, a figure that has been remarkably consistent since 2004. Meanwhile, less than a quarter (24 percent) of engineering entrants are female.”
“The situation is even more challenging in maths”, notes fellow I Wish founder, Gillian Keating. “Just 22 percent of entrants to third level maths courses were female in 2014 compared to 35 percent in 2004. I Wish aims to change the status quo with an ambition to increase female entrants to third level courses in STEM to 30 percent by 2020.”
Numerous reports have predicted the continued growth of job opportunities in Ireland in the area of ICT, and the need for suitably qualified staff to fill these positions. “But Ireland has a problem,” notes Caroline. “We have a skills gap and why should we leave 50 percent of the potential talent pool behind? The levels of female participation are too low. In a generation, nothing has really changed and we all agree that this is no longer acceptable. This is why I Wish was founded. To inspire, to encourage and to motivate young women to study STEM subjects.”
In 2017, over 4,000 female Transition Year students gathered at Cork City Hall and the RDS Dublin for the I Wish annual conference as opportunities in STEM were explored by delegates. With numerous interactive exhibitions, the conference featured workshops, keynote addresses and engaging talks by leading women in STEM.
Speakers at the event came from a range of STEM backgrounds, from engineering to biotechnology including Sarah Claxton, Employee Engagement, Diversity & Communications Lead at ESB Group, Mary Good, Vice President Global Manufacturing at PepsiCo and Gillian Bergin, Senior Consultant Ireland Centre of Excellence Operations at Dell EMC.
With the blend of talented industry leading speakers and inspiring content driven through interactive exhibitions, thousands of post-primary students were exposed to the remarkable opportunity a career in STEM poses. By providing role models and highlighting the influence of subject choice on career progression, I Wish has achieved one of its core objectives in Ireland: building a sustainable talent pipeline.
In 2018, I Wish has a further ambitious goal to increase their reach to 5,000 students. Caroline and KPMG are proud to provide continued support to the I Wish initiative and to doing whatever necessary to encourage female participation in STEM. According to Caroline O’Driscoll: “KPMG’s involvement in the initiative gives practical support to our diversity programme and makes a real difference.”