Saturday 24 August 2019

More women must be encouraged to enter the world of STEM - Vodafone Ireland CEO

Broadcasters Katie Hannon and Miriam O’Callaghan with Anne O’Leary of Vodafone
Broadcasters Katie Hannon and Miriam O’Callaghan with Anne O’Leary of Vodafone

Sinead Kelleher

More women must be encouraged to enter the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and this can only be done by "opening the minds of girls" to careers in this arena, according to CEO of Vodafone Ireland, Anne O'Leary.

"You can't be what you can't see. There is a lot more work to be do in Government, in society and education," Ms O'Leary said.

"The loss of female staff costs productivity and we need to keep and encourage women. We need to do a lot of work to influence parents and teachers.

"There is a lot of ignorance out there which is why we need to get out to schools and open girls' minds."

Ms O'Leary was one of the speakers in the Women in Stem panel at this year's Women in Media Conference taking place in Ballybunion, Co Kerry.  

The panel, chaired by Newstalk's Technology Correspondent, Jess Kelly, also included Head of Genetics at UCD Dr Niamh O'Sullivan, co-founder of IWish (Inspiring Women in Stem) Foundation and CEO of Trendster Media, Harry McCann.

Ms O'Leary said that Vodafone are committed to becoming the best place for woman to work by 2025 because this makes business sense.

Providing a flexible work place for both genders ensures the best and most talented staff will remain with the company and ensure a profitable and successful business and diversity around the table in business is key to the long-term and sustainable future of any business, she said.

Vodafone’s Anne O’Leary
Vodafone’s Anne O’Leary

Having a balance of people around the table, gender wise, and in age profiles and personalities will help reach business targets, she added.

"The majority of people want to do a good day's work and do their best and you have to trust and empower the team," Ms O'Leary said.

Her advice to companies is; "Don't hire people in your own likeness, introduce introverts and extroverts, male and female, young and old. Surround yourself with difference and you will get more curiosity, more innovation and that is what we need for the future."

Founder of I Wish Foundation, Gillian Keating said that gender stereotypes need to change.

Ms Keating said that these gender stereotypes about roles and career choices are being instilled in children unconsciously from an early change and that a cultural shift is needed to change this and open up STEM careers to more women.

"We need to give women more information and help change the conversation."

Harry McCann, who started his first technology business in 2015, when he was just 15, says that his generation don't see a difference in genders in the workplace and that they want to work for companies that care and that make a difference, not those who pay the most.

The conference continues tomorrow with a social media panel and Brexit panel.

Online Editors

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