Female Student Network to Aid Promotion of Gender Balance in the Construction Sector

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A new IT Sligo initiative, a Female Student Network, has been established in the Institute of Technology Sligo (IT Sligo) to help female students to settle into third level education and aid retention. This new peer group operates within the Civil Engineering and Construction programmes at IT Sligo.

IT Sligo has been promoting construction-related programmes to females through various initiatives recently and have seen growth in their female student numbers this academic year.

According to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), there are significant shortages of graduates from construction-related programmes, and only 1 in 10 employees are female.
The CIF has highlighted that it will be challenging to ensure an adequate supply of graduates to satisfy a growing demand over the next few decades, given that 112,000 additional construction workers will be required.

Trevor McSharry, Head of Department of Civil Engineering and Construction, said:

“With improving health and safety, the use of digital technologies and a focus on collaboration and sustainability, I think a lot of females are now considering construction-related programmes as the sector evolves. Improving gender balance within the construction sector is a key priority for all national bodies, not only to address skill shortages, but also to improve team diversity, inclusion and overall performance”.

He further continues: “We offer a broad range of full-time programmes including civil engineering, quantity surveying and construction project management and applied technology.”

Lisa Brennan, who was recently recruited from the construction industry as a lecturer, leads the newly established student female network initiative. She has secured the support of the Engineers Ireland Women in Engineering group, the Chartered Institute of Builders and the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland.

She said: “By implementing our networking initiative and providing an all rounded experience for female students, we can increase the appeal for females to study construction related programmes at IT Sligo. This will ultimately help grow the number of graduates from third level and help improve diversity.”

Monthly discussion groups will be held between female students across the programmes, both full time and online. Presentations from industry-based female guest speakers will also be organised. Regional school engagement will be set up to promote programmes, especially to female students, to increase the awareness of the range of careers available.