CONFIRM Community Engagement Project to Identify Barriers to Women & Girls entering Engineering

“We Can Engineer It” is a collaborative project between CONFIRM and South-Eastern Regional College (SERC), Co. Down, funded under the Community Foundation for Ireland “All-Island” Grant.

Confirm, the Science Foundation Ireland funded research centre for Smart Manufacturing based at the University of Limerick and South Eastern Regional College (SERC) Co. Down, have secured a grant to work on a unique project which aims to identify the barriers to entering engineering careers and study paths experienced by women and girls across the island of Ireland.

Confirm and SERC will work on a six-month project, supported by the Community Foundation for Ireland “All-Island” Fund, to implement an online engagement tool to gather views from women and girls about engineering and barriers to the profession which will be used to inform longer-term courses and policy.

Darren Anderson, Lecturer in mechatronics at SERC said, “Engineering is a male-dominated profession, and it is widely agreed that there are numerous barriers discouraging women from joining. Women account for 20.1% of the workforce in manufacturing for example. However, we know that companies are 15% more likely to perform better if they are gender diverse, and that diversity is crucial for driving innovation, so it makes sense to address the inequality and inform future policy which will support economic growth.”

Prof. Conor McCarthy, Director of the Confirm Centre said, “Through our Education & Public Engagement programme, Confirm has always strived to address inequalities with respect to gender in the field of manufacturing. This project will grant us a first-hand insight into the barriers that are facing young women and girls in terms of entering the field and significantly increase our ability to create a positive impact in terms of perceptions of manufacturing and manufacturing careers. We are delighted to be partnering with SERC to roll out this project on an ‘All-Island’ level.”

Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of The Community Foundation for Ireland added, “Our mission, and the mission of our donors, is for equality in thriving communities. Full equality includes access to work and professions. This six-month project has equality at its heart as it seeks to break down the unfair barriers for women entering into careers in engineering. It could also provide an example and a template for others to follow. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this exciting project by South Eastern Regional College and the Confirm Centre at the University of Limerick, and the impact which the results could have on an All-Island basis.”

The project is one of 30 civil society partnerships being supported by the new All-Island Fund – a unique partnership between the Community Foundation for Ireland and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland which combines over 60 years of grant-making experience. This new pilot Fund is providing flexible philanthropic support for civil society engagement on a north-south basis, leading to better understanding, strong relationships and progression towards a fairer, more equitable society on the island of Ireland.

For further information please contact:
 Sean O’ Brien (CONFIRM Education, Public Engagement  & Training Manager via email 

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