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DAIL QUESTION NO.356, * For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 17th April, 2008.

To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 115 of 10 April 2008, the amount of money made available by Science Foundation Ireland for the SFI Young Women in Engineering Scholarship each year for the past three years respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – David Stanton.


The Science Foundation Ireland/DELL Scholarship – Young Women in Engineering aims to attract and encourage more high-achieving young women into third-level education in engineering disciplines. The Scholarship is supported by DELL which supplies all the scholars with laptop computers. The scheme was introduced in academic year 2006 / 2007 so to date awards were made in 2006 / 2007 and 2007 / 2008. The awards have generally been made for €8,000 per person spread over a designated four-year degree course, i.e. €2,000 per person per year. Awards have been made to ten young women in 2006 and to a further ten young women in 2007. The total amount awarded to date is €158,000. A further round of awards will take place for academic year 2008 / 2009.


To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the actions he has taken or will take to encourage female participation in science based careers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  – David Stanton.

* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 10th April, 2008.

Ref No: 13766/08


Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment (Mr. Martin)

The overall investment in the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation 2006-2013 is predicated on the basis of equal access to opportunities arising for careers in Research and Development.

There are complex historical, cultural and social factors militating against proportionate take up by women of science-based careers. For example, re-establishing oneself following a period of absence from the research field is a significant structural barrier. For these reasons the agencies and bodies with a Science and Technology competence under the aegis of my Department support additional dedicated programmes or initiatives to enhance potential participation by women.

My Department has also developed a sustained and positive partnership with WITS (Women in Technology and Science), the independent organisation which fosters and supports increased participation by women in careers in science and technology.

Science Foundation Ireland

SFI encourages both men and women equally to participate in its research programmes on the criteria of scientific expertise, knowledge and potential. Three dedicated programmes were introduced in 2005 with the objective of increasing take up by women of careers as researchers:

(i) The SFI Principal Investigator Career Advancement Award

This award supported researchers returning to pursue their career subsequent to a period of time spent on childcare. The Award was a pilot measure and SFI is currently examining how elements of this programme could be merged into other award programmes.

(ii) The SFI Institute Planning Grant and Institute Development Awards

These awards constituted a linked two-stage programme. The Institution Planning Grant provided research institutions with support to conduct a self-assessment of women’s participation in science and engineering research activity and management. The follow-on Institute Development Award provided support for institutions which had carried out the self-assessment to implement initiatives to support the enhancement of women’s participation in science and engineering.

(iii) The SFI Young Women in Engineering Scholarship

This award, supported by Dell, aims to attract and encourage more young women into designated third-level education courses in engineering disciplines.


My Department supports InterTradeIreland’s Re-Enter Programme, an all-island structured return to work programme for women scientists, engineers and technologists. This programme integrates educational, mentoring and networking dimensions.

Discover Science and Engineering

DSE, Ireland’s national science promotion programme, aims inter alia to increase take up of science and engineering at third level. All its programme literature seeks to feature both females and males equally so as to clearly communicate that careers in science and engineering are equally available to both sexes.

Uimhir:143, * For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 10th April, 2008

To ask the Minister for Education and Science the measures she has taken or

will take to encourage girls to opt for third level science courses; and if she

will make a statement on the matter.

– David Stanton.


Minister for Education and Science (Mary Hanafin, T.D.)

My Department is fully committed to strengthening the quality of science

teaching and learning, promoting increased scientific literacy and encouraging

more students, both girls and boys, to choose science subjects. Progress in

these areas is a vitally important part of our national strategy to support

competitiveness and employment.

Significant progress is being made in regard to curricular reform and inservice

support for science at both primary and post-primary levels. Science was

introduced as a key component in the revised Primary School Curriculum in 1999

and it has been implemented in all schools since September 2003.  A revised

syllabus in Junior Certificate Science was introduced in 2003 and it was

examined for the first time in June 2006. I believe that this syllabus, with

its hands-on investigative approach and its new emphasis on scientific process

skills, will be instrumental in encouraging more students to continue their

study of science in senior cycle. Advice from the National Council for

Curriculum and Assessment in regard to reform of science at senior cycle is

expected shortly. Some €16m in equipment and resource grants was  provided to

schools in 2004, and laboratories continue to be refurbished as part of the

ongoing school building programme.

The book, Irish Innovators in Science and Technology, produced with the

assistance of Enterprise Ireland and the Royal Irish Academy was distributed to

all Post-Primary Schools. The Irish Scientist is distributed every year.

20 copies of a CD-rom called Up2u, produced for the National Skills Awareness

Campaign on behalf of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and Forfás, were

sent to each Post-Primary School, providing information and assistance to help

students make choices about subjects, colleges and careers in the areas of

science, technology and engineering.  Both my Department and the Discover

Science programme continue to engage with school guidance counsellors on the

importance of science, technology and engineering careers, and Discover Science

operates a comprehensive range of initiatives to promote the attractiveness of

careers in this area.

The WITS initiative (Women in Science and Technology) was launched in 1990 to

actively promote women in technology and science.  It organises regional

information and recruitment workshops, a Re-Enter programme which provides on

line training, support and mentoring and an internship in industry for 20 women

aiming to return to science careers, organises the provision of plaques to

commemeorate female role models in science and technology, and provides

information generally on opportunities for women in the sector.

In the Leaving Certificate examinations in 2007, females  participation rates

in Physics and Chemistry at Higher level were 30% and 58% female respectively,

and at Ordinary Level were 16% and 46% respectively.