A first of its kind internship programme, specially designed to give pre-service teachers hands-on industry experience of working in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) role was launched today. The pilot scheme was initiated and by Dr. Eilish Mc Loughlin, School of Physical Sciences and Director of CASTeL at Dublin City University in partnership with Accenture and the 30% Club. This novel programme aims to enable pre-service teachers from the third year of the BSC in Science Education to better inform their students – and in particular, their female students – about careers in STEM by giving the teachers the chance to work in ind ustry for 3 months full-time.
Dr. Eilish Mc Loughlin, Programme Coordinator, believes this programme with offer these teacher opportunities to enhance their scientific knowledge as well as core competencies – such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration and connections to the real world. The SE3 students participated in the pilot programme this year are James Doyle; Amy Bennett; Clodagh Finnegan; and Tom McMahon and Sean O’Donnell. It is important that these future teachers of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics at second level, will get the opportunity to apply their STEM knowledge and skills from undergraduate education at DCU to solve real world problems and this experience will reinforce and deepen their knowledge and understanding of STEM.
In 2013 and 2015 Accenture carried out research and produced reports on attracting more females into STEM which showed that while the vast majority of girls appreciate that STEM subjects create a lot of career opportunities, stereotypes persist and a high proportion of females believe that the subjects are too difficult and better suited to males. Teachers were identified as key influencers on students’ subject choices yet three quarters of teachers surveyed do not consider themselves influential. Over half of teachers in the 2013 study used the words “average,” “poor” or “very poor” to describe the overall level of information available on STEM-related career opportunities.
Partnering with the 30% Club to develop an industry response to this challenge, Accenture has designed the paid, three month pilot internship programme, which will see five trainee teachers (each in their 3rd year of studying DCU’s Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.), Science Education) take up positions as Summer interns within the company’s technology practice, working on real-life client projects as well as in Accenture’s recently established Centre for Innovation.
Paula Neary, managing director in Accenture and sponsor of the STEM programme said, “Our research findings were stark and the position has not changed since we first conducted this research in 2013. The reports highlight the challenge that exists in trying to equip teachers with the knowledge to inform younger females of the opportunities presented by a STEM career. As Ireland continues to position itself as the epicentre of the world’s digital economy, we need to future proof the talent pipeline so that half the population is not excluded from the opportunities that STEM presents and to this end, industry has a role to play. The objective of this programme is to provide teachers with hands-on industry experience in the sector so that they’re better positioned to provide guidance, encouragement and bring their experience to life in the classroom.”
Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU said ‘At our new Institute of Education, DCU student teachers engage with educators who are at the cutting edge of knowledge and practice in 21st Century education, particularly in the area of STEM education. Our students, the educators of tomorrow, will have a key role to play in sparking and encouraging interest in STEM subjects, particularly amongst young female students. Partnering with Accenture and the 30% Club on this initiative is an important step in tackling the negative stereotypes and challenges that exist when helping young women to explore the potential and opportunities of STEM careers.”
Brid Horan, speaking on behalf of the 30% Club welcomed this initiative by Accenture and DCU as an important step in equipping future teachers in their key role as influencers of girls. “The narrative around the skills shortage in the STEM sectors is well known at this stage and the 30% Club is actively involved in a range of initiatives to address gender stereotyping within these industries. We are also working in collaboration with DCU in a variety of ways to help target these issues at an early stage by intervening at University level. The 30% Club greatly appreciates the active engagement and support from Accenture and DCU to develop effective interventions to improve gender balance in STEM and other areas of business and education.”
SE3 students James Doyle; Amy Bennett; Clodagh Finnegan; and Tom McMahon and Sean O’Donnell, with Alastair Blaire and Paula Neary Accenture, Brid Hroan 30% Club and DCU President Prof. Brian MacCraith.
SE3 students Amy Bennett and Clodagh Finnegan with Paula Neary Accenture and DCU President Prof. Brian MacCraith.