Published: Thu, 30 June 2016
MEP for Ireland South and leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, Seán Kelly, has called for strengthened efforts to encourage women to pursue careers in the engineering and technological sectors. Mr. Kelly’s comments come following the release of new data from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, which shows that at just 15%, Ireland has the lowest share of female graduates in Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction.
Speaking in the European Parliament in Brussels this week, the Kerry MEP highlighted the importance of eliminating stereotypes that may act as a barrier for women seeking out careers in key growth sectors: “85 per cent of our engineering graduates in Ireland are men; that is significantly higher than the EU average which stands at 73 per cent. This is something we really must address as it could lead to huge missed opportunities for Ireland. We must encourage more women to pursue careers in these sectors, sectors in which female voices and ideas are lacking but badly needed.
“Even today, in 2016, we are faced with what is certainly a stereotype problem – these careers are still associated with men and this needs to change quickly.
“Diversity in all sectors increases productivity and spurs innovation. With an increasing amount of key technical challenges to be addressed in the coming years, such as developing Renewable Energy and other sustainable solutions to combat Climate Change, along with the significant opportunities presented by the proposed EU Digital Single Market, there will be a need for fresh new ideas – women engineers will be essential to boosting these crucial growth areas.”
The new Eurostat figures show that the Social Sciences, Business and Law have the highest proportion of graduates in Ireland at 29%, followed by Health (15%), Arts (11.5%), and Science (12%). At 10%, Ireland’s share of graduates in Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction was below the EU average of 14.4%, largely as a result of the lack of women seeking such qualifications.
MEP Kelly says that the low proportion of technical graduates is something that requires government attention: “As our economy continues to move strongly out of recession and productivity continues to rise, we will see increased demand for engineering graduates. We need only look to the digital sector, pharmaceuticals, medical devices for examples – these are sectors that are going through a very successful period here in Ireland, and we will need more skilled graduates if we are to maintain this success.
“We should prioritise the need to encourage young women to pursue careers in engineering, and effectively communicate the opportunities that are there for them. More women graduates in these sectors enhances our workforce and makes Ireland more attractive to investment”, he concluded.