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Thursday 18 September 2014

Engineering is no longer a man's world

Emma Jane Hade

Published 12/02/2014 | 02:30

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Students from Kinsale Community School visit Eli Lilly as part of Irish Engineers Week.

MORE women are casting off stereotypical female career roles as nurses and teachers in favour of venturing into the world of engineering.

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However, despite some companies' best efforts to increase the female presence among their engineers, the figures still remain low.

ESB International revealed that just one-fifth of the graduates they employed over the last seven years were female. But in recent weeks, four vacant positions there were filled by women.

Adelina Henderson is an engineer with ESB International. She said that she was initially introduced to the world of engineering as a child, as she was the eldest in her family and accompanied her father everywhere. "I was always asking why, I was always inquisitive," she said.

Jill O'Donnell, her colleague in the company's telecom services, said that she always found engineering to be "fascinating" as her father worked as an electrician.

Both attended all-girl secondary schools and admitted that engineering was typically viewed as a "male subject".

"I attended an all-girls school and it was definitely aimed more towards arts and nursing," Jill explained.

The pair, who were yesterday part of the 'ESB Engineering Squad' for this year's Irish Engineers Week, spoke highly of their employers and praised them for opening more doors for women in the sector.

ESB International holds an annual 'Women in Engineering' programme, and to date over 100 female secondary school students have participated. The aim of the programme is to dispel the myths of the job as being a typically male role.

With the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths sector growing, employment opportunities are also on the rise.

"It is a male-dominated industry. But saying that now I think the numbers are slowly but surely picking up," Adelina said.

John Sweeney, head of Innovation at ESB, said "there is a shortage of engineers worldwide" and that they are "almost guaranteed a job".

Irish Independent

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