TU Dublin City Campus has a unique mentorship programme for female students in Engineering and Computing to address gender equality. The purpose is to bring students, ranging from females in electrical apprenticeship up through post graduates, together with women role models who are actively working in Amazon, Arup, Dublin City Council, ESB, MasterCard, SAP and Schneider Electric. Training for mentors and TU Dublin staff is provided by Engineers Ireland.
At the mentoring events the TU Dublin students will have the opportunity to discuss and learn from women working in industry about how the skills and knowledge the they are currently learning will not only be applied in third level but also in the professional work place. In addition, through this initiative the TU Dublin students will be able to discover more about the range of career opportunities that are available and what to expect from the workplace.
Discussing the programme, Leslie Shoemaker, Programme Coordinator, explains, “Research shows that mentorship works. Our goal is to provide female students with role models who can offer guidance about career opportunities in engineering, provide support and tools for navigating these male-dominated industries, and entice and retain more women in these fields. We need to dispel the myth that these are male-only professions. We need young women to know how engineering and computing are great and rewarding career options where they can really make difference.”
Why Create This Initiative?
A couple of years ago the OECD, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, published research which examined gender equality in education as well as in STEM subjects. The research found adolescent girls lacked confidence in their abilities with STEM areas despite the evidence that shows how competent young women are in these disciplines. These findings are consistent with the research Accenture conducted here in Ireland in 2015 about adolescent female students and STEM related subjects. Perhaps one aspect of this difficulty for young women and STEM subjects, as the OECD report proposes, is how there is a lack of female role models for young women to emulate/look up to and possibly how working in engineering or computing does not fit into the stereotype of careers women ‘should’ be pursuing.
This is partly why the ESTeEM initiative has been created. The purpose of this programme is to provide female TU Dublin students with a role model who will provide support, assistance and information about engineering or computing, the types of career paths available as well as what skills are needed to for the future workplace. The goal is for the TU Dublin graduate to take these skills and knowledge with them to the workforce so she will be more prepared for the career challenges that lie ahead. This initiative aims to create new role models for future young women who want to study these subjects and to show how engineering and computing are not just for young men.
The ESTeEM program is something I am particularly proud to be involved in. I was lucky enough to become involved at the inception stages and have been amazed to see the response, support and growth of the program over the last 2 years. The fact that so many mentors are willing to give up their time to volunteer and encourage students who will hopefully follow in their footsteps is very rewarding to see at the events. With such a gender gap in STEM subjects at third level, I believe the coordinated effort is required between industry and University’s to promote STEM subjects. The fact that the program has already gone full circle as we have now had former students who attended as a mentee now becoming mentors and representing their new employers to, is a testament to how successful this program has become in such a short space of time.
Stephen Robinson Director | MARSON Consulting Engineers, BEng Tech, BSc, MSc, CEng
At the start of the academic year, new TU Dublin students who volunteer to join ESTeEM are given the opportunity to select a mentor, and the student will remain paired with her industry role model for the duration of her academic career in TU Dublin. The students and mentors meet over a series of five lunches during each academic year. At each event there is a short talk from a speaker working in either the engineering or computing industry followed by an activity and discussion.
Feedback From Past Student Participants
TU Dublin students have reported a few benefits from the ESTeEM initiative.
- They were more confident about their course choices.
- They enjoyed meeting and networking with relevant professionals as well as with other female students from other related programmes.
- They had a better understanding of their career opportunities.
- They noticed a general increase in their own confidence.
Some comments from student participants:
“It was nice to talk to women in the industry and chat about their experiences.”
“I found it to be a positive experience.”
“Lots of tips into the sector, insight into jobs and how my modules related to jobs.”
“Networking and learning.”
“Friendly people talking and sharing the experience.”
“I was fortunate to join the ESTeEM programme in its pilot year, as a result of which we had no expectations or idea what it would be like or what we would get out of it. I was blown away by what had been put together and the benefits of being a mentee are still with me today. I learned useful lessons from the speakers, gained valuable knowledge on industry from my mentor and a community of support from my fellow mentees. I hope one day that my work can be as impactful on the life and careers of the next generation of innovators and inventors as Leslie, and her programme, has had on myself and many others alike”
Aisling Lee, BEngTech, BEng, MIEI, MIET, Application Development Analyst for Accenture Ireland
Awards and Acknowledgments
In late 2018, Dublin Institute of Technology, now TU Dublin, received the Bronze Award from Athena Swan. The review panel for Athena Swan selected ESTeEM as the example of best practise.
On September 6, 2019, the Electrical Industries Federation of Ireland (EIFI) selected Leslie Shoemaker and ESTeEM for the President's Award and in January 2020, ESTeEM was shortlisted for the Education 2020 Awards in the category for the Best College of Science and Engineering.
For More Information
If you would like further details about ESTeEM, please contact Leslie Shoemaker at Leslie.Shoemaker@TUDublin.ie or at 01-402 2883.