It was an exciting morning for all of the young women who attended the College and Beyond talk in the National Concert Hall on Tuesday 25th October. The talk was aimed at 4th-6th year students, to encourage them to work in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) job sector. The keynote speakers were four women who have successful careers in the STEM sector.

Firstly, the event started off by Eva Duffy giving a speech about her work in the science industry. Eva Duffy is a Senior Qualified Person who works for the company Alexion. She began her speech by telling us about the different subjects she studied in college such as Chemistry and Biochemistry. She proceeded to tell the students about the different jobs she has worked in since studying in college. For instance, Eva worked in Oragon in Swords as an Analytical Laboratory Analyst from 1995-1998, she also talked to the students about her current job in Alexion. Some great advice she gave to the girls was “Trust your instincts” when it comes to your job choice and to choose a job that is right for you and not to go with a job you think other people want you to.

Secondly, following Eva Duffy, Jacky Fox stepped up to the podium. Jacky Fox works in the technology sector working in Cyber Security and IT Forensics Service Lines in Dublin. She told us that she had graduated school very young and how it was hard for her to study the subjects she wanted but she pushed on and decided to study electronics. Jacky discussed issues such as gender bias in the workplace and her negative experiences with gender bias, but she encouraged the girls to look past the negatives and follow their dreams in the technology world.

Thirdly, Marguerite Sayers came to speak to us about her experience in the Engineering sector of STEM. She was appointed Managing Director in November 2014. She has a degree in Electrical Engineering from University College Cork (UCC), a diploma in Accounting and Finance from University of Limerick and a diploma in Project Management from UCC. Her advice to women who want to work in STEM is to be honest with yourself and she told us that there are “many ways to skin a cat”, meaning there are many different way of achieving your hopes and dreams. She also pointed out that being female is not an issue.

Furthermore, Fiona Royce was representing Maths sector at the STEM Her job is a VP Client Data Manager in Deutsche Bank. The advice that she gave to us was to firstly: figure out what you like, secondly: figure out what you are good at, thirdly: be informed of your options, always: take a risk and lastly: have fun.

After the speakers had each explained to us what a great opportunity STEM is for everyone and their personal experience within STEM there was a Moderated Q&A. On the panel was Susan Hayes-Culleton (the Moderator and Chartered Financial Analyst. She speaks to audiences and trains professionals worldwide.), Eva, Jacky, Marguerite, Fiona and Margie McCarthy. Margie McCarthy works for Science Foundation Ireland. One question asked at the Q&A, by a member of the audience, was if the women had any role models. The answers ranged from parents to bosses and even grandparents. Susan Hayes-Culleton’s role model was her goddaughter as she never questioned if she could do something, she just went ahead and did it with confidence.

The event was very informative and inspirational for the students involved. One reassuring piece of advice that was given was that if you are panicking and don’t know what job you want to do when you leave school, you can relax. As the job you are best suited to might not even exist yet. The 5th years definitely got something valuable from the women at the event. They taught them so much about the STEM industry, self confidence and female empowerment. Even if you didn’t want to work in the STEM sector it was still a very inspirational and enjoyable event and it was wonderful to see other women empowering each other.

Thanks to TY Journalism students Keava Roche and Elaine Murphy for this article and accompanying photos.