Senator Fiona O’Loughlin highlights the gender imbalance in STEM

Fianna Fail Education Spokesperson and Chair of the Oireachtas Women’s Caucus Senator Fiona O’Loughlin marked science week in the Seanad on Thursday and commended the phenomenal work of the science community in the light of the covid pandemic, but also highlighted the lack of female participation in STEM.

Senator O’Loughlin said “I think we have all got a renewed sense of gratitude and of respect for the pivotal work that is carried out within the scientific community. There is absolutely no doubt, that without the tireless and ground-breaking research within the scientific sphere we would not be where we are today in terms of Covid 19. That our children would not be back in classrooms, that we would not be able to see our loved ones get married or honour our dead in a meaningful way. The development of vaccines has given everyone in this country their lives back- and we owe the scientific community enormous gratitude for all they have contributed to our society, not just in Ireland but globally.”

“I also paid tribute to two local trailblazers – to Dr Teresa Lambe OBE from Kilcullen for her phenomenal contribution to the development of the Astra Zeneca vaccine and also to Dr Kathleen Lonsdale born in Newbridge in 1903 who played a fundamental role in establishing the science of crystallography.”

“Whilst we have made great progress, I did highlight the gender imbalance in STEM (Statistics, Technology Engineering and Maths). A recent U. C. D. Study showed that over 40% of boys list a STEM course versus just 19% of girls on their CAO. Also, the European University Institute found that just 1 in 6 engineering graduates are women.”

Fiona concluded “Women in Technology and Science Ireland are hosting a STEM Student Career Series tomorrow, and I would encourage any young girl out there who has been inspired by what they saw throughout science week to pop along and consider STEM. The talented young women are out there, and they have a contribution to make, but we need to nurture and encourage them into the field”