Over 200 Derry girls attended a conference in the city earlier this week to encourage them to pursue a career in tech.
The ‘Monster Confidence’ event was organised by the social enterprise organisation STEMettes and the jobs site monster.co.uk.
Students from Thornhill College, St Mary’s College, St Cecilia’s College and a number of other schools in the city were in attendance at the event, as well as students from third level education.
The events are held to encourage young women to pursue a career in STEM subjects.
Current statistics show that only 11 per cent of women in the United Kingdom pursue a STEM degree at university and only 20 per cent of tech jobs are held by women.
On the day the students were able to take part in speed mentoring with volunteers who have backgrounds in STEM to give them confidence in entering and pursuing their chosen career.
They were also able to have mock interviews with volunteers from HR and recruitment backgrounds to learn valuable interview skills, speak to volunteers about their industry and have professional headshots taken for their online profiles. T
The young women heard about STEM opportunities from a number of local employers and there were panellist discussions on career building in STEM subjects.
The keynote speech was delivered by Mary McKenna, co-founder of Learning Pool, angel investor and entrepreneur in residence at St. Mary’s College.
Mary said events like these are so important to open young women’s eyes to the opportunities in tech and other STEM careers.
“So many are looking at traditional careers like law or medicine, but if you are 14 now and come out of university in seven years time who knows what jobs will be available.
“If you have got STEM skills they are so transferable because they are invading all professions. There is so much potential in this area.
“There are one million vacancies for tech jobs which cannot be filled and there are so many good careers for girls and young women that they are just not aware of.”
She said it is an important for the students to have role models in STEM careers.
Mary and another local businesswoman, Clare McGee, were instrumental in the Monster Confidence event being hosted in Derry.
Anne-Marie Imafidon, the founder of STEMettes, said she hopes her organisation will be able to forge lasting links with the city and will be able to bring further events here in the future.
Anne-Marie is a child prodigy who was the youngest girl ever to pass ‘A Level’ computing at age 11 and was just 20 years old when she received her Master’s Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Oxford.
She worked in the tech industry for a number of years and has been awarded a number of honorary degrees and an MBE.
Anne-Marie started STEMettes to empower and inspire young women interested in a career in the STEM sector. Over the last five years, it has engaged with more than 38,500 young people across Europe.
“When I worked in the tech industry I didn’t realise it was anything special, but the statistics show that only 14 per cent of the work force are women.
“I started the STEMettes to encourage a more diverse and balanced science and tech community.”
“I want these young women to see what is out there and to empower them by giving them the right interview skills and make connections with people in the industry.”
Monster Confidence events have been held in Belfast and Dublin in the last couple of years, however, Anne-Marie said the attendance at the event in Derry was much bigger and said there is ‘so much we would like to come back and do here’.
Clare Doherty, Head of Technology at St. Mary’s College, said the Monster Confidence event was an ‘amazing opportunity’ for her students.
“It gives them the chance to meet employers face to face and talk to them about what skills will be of importance when they reach the job market.”