- I Wish is a national initiative in Ireland which aims to encourage and motivate female secondary school students to study and work in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
- In total, there were 4000 girls in attendance. Arup was front and centre as one of the event’s key supporters.
- Staff have thoroughly enjoyed being involved in this annual initiative since it was established in 2015. 2017 was the first year it became a national event in Ireland, as it took place in both Cork (9 and 10 February) and Dublin (13 and 14 February).
Inspiring female students
I Wish was held in Cork and Dublin in February 2017. Arup was the Conference Zone – National Sponsor for the 4-day event. The initiative has a goal of altering perceptions of STEM from a younger age, by getting young women to appreciate the opportunities around STEM subjects so hopefully, in the medium-long term, a more balanced gender equality situation in STEM careers can be achieved.
Arup role models
A key aim of I Wish is to provide role models in STEM to young women. Four Arup staff delivered keynote speeches where they detailed their personal journeys and explained some of the interesting aspects of their careers in engineering. The students were inspired and excited to hear about the opportunities available in engineering in particular. Seven staff members took part in panel discussions which revolved around the panellists’ decisions to pursue their chosen careers, their favourite aspects of their jobs and their thoughts on future careers in STEM.
In addition to our keynote speakers and panellists, we manned a stand in both Cork and Dublin across the four days where 44 Arup volunteers took the opportunity to engage with the students directly, demonstrating what they do in their day-to-day working lives. Participating in I Wish was rewarding for all speakers and volunteers, as speaking to the students about their hopes for the future enabled staff to reflect on their own reasons for choosing their careers and increased their enthusiasm for engineering. The students showed interest and excitement, as they were inspired by a world of opportunities they may not have considered in the past.
In a survey conducted by I Wish after last year’s event, it was found that 60% of students surveyed changed their subject choices as a result of the I Wish conference. This shows the power of the conference, as it opened the minds of the students to the endless opportunities available to them if they choose to work in STEM.
Inspiring young women to choose to study and work in STEM is vitally important, as the low participation of females in STEM, combined with a STEM skills gap, is resulting in a significant shortage of females in engineering. Arup is involved in numerous initiatives aimed at increasing the engagement of young people in STEM, including UrbanPlan, Hamilton Day and the STEPS to Engineering Programme. A more diverse workforce in STEM will benefit the economy and society as a whole.
“I was so excited to have the opportunity to explain to the students attending I Wish that a career in STEM can contribute so positively to people’s lives. In our work at Arup, whether it’s improving the energy usage of our buildings or designing more comfortable working environments, we can make a difference.”
“It’s honestly one of the most inspiring events I’ve ever been to. We can do what we want. It’s our world. Endless possibilities now.”