Randox teams up with top influencers and schools to break barriers on STEM
MORE than 50 students from across Northern Ireland celebrated International Women in Engineering Day by taking part in the first annual STEM Challenge event hosted by global healthcare firm Randox Laboratories.
The students from the Belfast Model School for Girls and Victoria College Belfast joined female scientists, engineers, software developers and mathematicians from Randox, for a number of interactive activities organised to mark the special day, which is aimed at tackling the gender divide in engineering and other science, technology and maths-related disciplines.
Professor Máire O'Neill from Queen's University, who is Professor in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and is a former recipient of the British Female Inventors and Innovators Network's British Female Inventor of the Year award, said she was delighted to have the opportunity to speak with girls who could potentially be the next generation of scientists, mathematicians, software developers and engineers.
She said: “Engineering is not a job for men. The representation of engineering as a 'masculine' job is a socially constructed and inaccurate one. The skills required for engineering are found just as readily in the young girls I see here before me today as they are in their male classmates – patience, analysis, communication, empathy and problem solving.
“Enabling these young girls here today to meet with female engineers from Randox provides them with really positive role models who can share their experiences and hopefully encourage the students to really consider what it is to be an engineer.”
The students had the opportunity to ask the Randox representatives all the questions they wanted to know about working in STEM, and were treated to a tour of the facilities at the recently acquired Randox Science Park.
Linda Magee, head of HR at Randox, said: “We want young girls to know that engineering is as much a viable career choice for them as it is for their male counterparts.
"At Randox our female-to-male ratio of engineers is significantly higher than the UK average – 15.8 per cent as opposed to only 9 per cent - but we still have a long way to go and we feel quite strongly that we can utilise our status in the Northern Irish business sector to really spearhead a paradigm shift in how we view engineering disciplines.”