US datacentre hardware firm Park Place Technologies has partnered with two Irish organisations to launch a programme designed to teach young women more about what a career in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) involves.
Park Place will partner with I Wish (Inspiring Women In STEM) and IDA Ireland, the agency responsible for attracting and retaining foreign direct investment into the region, to launch a STEM competition, the winners of which will travel from Ireland to the US to experience what a STEM career involves first-hand.
The competition launch coincided with the announcement from Simon Coveney, Tánaiste and Ireland minister for foreign affairs, that I Wish would launch an I Wish Alumni Association to act as a network for young women in Ireland who are interested in a career in STEM.
Coveney said: “I am delighted to launch this innovative initiative that shows how serious Park Place and I Wish are about fostering STEM ambitions in Ireland’s young women. It is a true testament to the STEM industry’s commitment – alongside our government – to fostering a better gender balance in the STEM workplace.”
The I Wish Alumni Association will act as a network to connect and support young women in Ireland who hope to pursue a STEM career, and its members who are in their final year at university will be able to enter the competition for the Park Place Technologies STEM internship.
Initially, two girls will be accepted onto the 10-day programme, and will visit several Park Place Technologies offices in Boston, Massachusetts and Cleveland as well as work with mentors within the firm, and gain more of an idea of what working in a tech-focused company such as Park Place is like.
Negative stereotypes surrounding the types of people and roles in the technology industry often put young women off pursing tech careers, and a lack of knowledge about the types of role in STEM and what they involve prevents teachers from being able to fully advise young people on possible careers.
By making people more aware of what technology roles involve, many believe more young women may be interested in pursuing STEM.
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Chris Adams, president and CEO of Park Place Technologies, said more needs to be done to encourage women into technology, and explained tthat he partnership with I Wish was born out of the opening of Park Place’s new operations centre in Cork in 2018.
I Wish co-founder Caroline O’Driscoll said: “In just a short time, I Wish has become Ireland’s largest STEM programme, and the Alumni Association will ensure that the connections the girls made at I Wish strengthen and flourish during their STEM careers. This competition with Park Place and the IDA is the first of many exciting initiatives planned for the I Wish Alumni as they explore a world of possibilities through STEM.”
But there are so many initiatives aimed at encouraging more women into the STEM industries, it is hard to keep track of them all. Partnerships between industry, government and education providers have been cited as a way to resolve this, and I Wish hopes that partnering with industry players such as Park Place will help it to expand its reach and give girls access to partners such as Dell EMC/VMWare, Accenture, Twitter and Google at its events in 2019.
The Park Place internship winners will be announced later this year.