Anna Lo MLA said: “The under-representation of women in STEM careers is not just a gender equality issue; there are wider economic consequences to our economy and international competitiveness.
“The workforce of the future will need to be skilled in STEM to meet the growing demands from an economy increasingly dependent on ICT and innovation from research and development. If we fail to inspire our young females, we are not maximising the potential pool of talent from our population.
“It’s not easy to replace the scientist-equals-man image which is so deeply embedded in our culture, but we need a culture shift to make these sectors more attractive to women. We need enthusiastic parents, teachers and career advisers to encourage girls to embark on STEM careers.
“Minister Stephen Farry and his department are aware of the challenges and has led on the implementation of the STEM Strategy, ‘Success through STEM’, which has been endorsed by the Executive. The Strategy aims to encourage more of our young people, particularly females, to study and pursue a career in STEM.
“The Minister’s job in promoting STEM has been made more difficult after he was forced by the Executive to reinstate the premia payments to St Mary’s and Stranmillis. Instead of spending this money on STEM subjects at Further and Higher Education, it will spent on training teachers in numbers that we do not need.”