25th April 2019

Posted In: The Topic

To mark today’s (25th April) Girls in ICT Day, Microsoft welcomed over 80 girls to its campus for a special DreamSpace event to inspire them about the opportunities unlocked through STEM and meet with young successful women who are blazing a trail by harnessing the power of creativity and technology.

Students from Scoil Chaitríona, Coolock and St. Kevin’s Girls National School, Tallaght were invited to DreamSpace – Microsoft’s education hub – to undertake a special immersive digital skills experience. With sessions in MicroBit coding and 3D paint modelling to foster critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork skills, the girls were empowered to succeed into the future through STEM subjects. The event is a key element of Microsoft’s #MakeWhatsNext campaign aims to encourage young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The students also had the opportunity to meet with young successful women, who have used their digital skills to succeed. 12-year-old EU Digital Girl of the Year 2018, Aoibheann Mangan spoke about how her interest in coding and the importance of digital skills to empower girls to become future leaders. Entrepreneur Nicki Hoyne, founder and CEO of My Shining Armour, shared how technological innovation supported her online accessories business, and encouraged the girls to open their minds to the career opportunities that emerge in the STEM space.

In marking Girls in ICT Day Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland said: “At Microsoft we want to inspire, excite and encourage Irish girls to achieve more through technology and become our next digital leaders. With women currently representing only 30% of Europe’s ICT workforce, it’s important that all girls are able to see a path for themselves in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths so they can not only imagine tomorrow’s world but play an active role in building it.

“With our research showing that 46% of girls reporting an interest in STEM subjects when inspired by a female role model, we brought together some of Ireland’s most inspiring young female leaders to DreamSpace. And with 7 million new STEM jobs due to come on stream in Europe by 2025, we must do all we can to break stereotypes around STEM, showcase girls in Ireland to #MakeWhatsNext.

“This celebratory event for girls, our future leaders, also marked the first anniversary of DreamSpace. From an initial investment of €5m, the One Microsoft team have expanded the hub and created an immersive digital skills experience that is now being rolled out across the regions so that every school and every student in Ireland is empowered to engage with technology.

Speaking at the event, Nicki Hoyne, Founder and CEO of My Shining Armour, said: “I’m delighted to join Microsoft in showcasing the power of creativity and technology in unlocking new career opportunities for young girls across Ireland. When I was growing up my current job didn’t exist. Through the transformation of technology and belief in my creativity, I now run an international business that competes with long-established retailers.  The #MakeWhatsNext campaign is a great way to inspire girls to open their minds to STEM, as whatever their future holds technology will be at the heart of it.”

Aoibheann Mangan, EU Digital Girl of the Year, said: “Through STEM, I’ve gotten to do things I could never expect; my websites have won awards across Europe and I’ve gotten to travel and speak about the importance of digital skills, especially giving all girls the opportunity to discover their STEM talent.

“For girls to succeed in technology, we need to level the playing field. As coding is not on the primary curriculum and not all secondary schools are able to offer the subject at Junior or Senior cycle, it’s important to have places like DreamSpace and companies like Microsoft investing in our futures, as it may be the only chance some students get to experience technology and spark a lifelong passion for STEM.”

Microsoft also supports STEM education in Ireland through their Hour of Code programme which provides young people with a glimpse into the fun of coding. In 2018, Microsoft announced a partnership with DCU to enable over 450 final year student teachers to introduce coding to an additional 10,000 primary school students.

The company is inviting all schools to register their interest in the DreamSpace experience by logging on here>> and follow Microsoft’s twitter handle @MS_eduIRL.