SETU’s Women in Technology event opens a world of possibilities to over 1,000 students  

South East Technological University’s (SETU) Women in Technology event opened a world of possibilities to over 1,000 female second-level students from across the south east region, considering a career in the tech industry.

Sponsored by Red Hat, the fourth annual event held at SETU Arena served as a platform to promote the vital role of women in technology, break down barriers, and highlight the accomplishments of women in the field. 

Through a series of engaging talks by industry leaders and top speakers, attendees gained valuable insights into potential career paths and opportunities within the technological landscape. 

The event was supported by over 30 companies from the region, who engaged with students and their teachers about the variety of opportunities and careers in their organisations and the pathways to get there, along with the flexible working environment and great pay. SETU lecturers were also on hand to guide students about available courses across the University’s Waterford and Carlow campuses.

Kathryn Kiely, Vice President for External Affairs at SETU, outlined the wonderful opportunities that a career in technology provides in terms of opportunity, travel, flexibility, and salary.

Speaking about the importance of the event, Ms Kiely, said, “From SETU’s perspective it is vital to promote the opportunities that exist for women in technology. This year we hosted over 1,000 students from right across the region who learned about the multiple opportunities that exist within the global companies based in the south east. These companies have supported us in promoting diversity and equality of opportunity and inspiring young girls to consider science and technology as a career.”

Guest speakers shared inspiring stories of their career journeys, demonstrating the diverse pathways to success within the tech industry. Travel blogger and entrepreneur Stephanie Barry-Woods, who has a huge online following through her “stephmylife” social channel, described how her Bachelor of Business Information Systems (BIS) degree paved the way for her to travel the world while working remotely and providing the perfect work-life balance. 

Irish International athlete and Olympian Phil Healy from Sun Life described how a career in computing helps her to balance her busy athletic schedule, facilitating her to represent Ireland on the world stage. Emily Watson from Servier outlined how her degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering facilitated her to become Head of Performance and the wonderful opportunities it has presented her with in her career so far.

Deborah Threadgold, Managing Director of IBM Ireland gave an insightful and interesting talk on her career journey, outlining the different paths she took, and the lessons learned along the way. 

Reflecting on the event, Ms Threadgold said, “It is inspiring to walk into a room and have so many young women present that could thread a path into a previously male-dominated industry. For them, it was important to look at the stage and see all sorts of women from different backgrounds who found their way into technology and are passionate about it. This is an industry that has 25-29% females. Diversity brings innovation and innovation brings success. What SETU and Red Hat have achieved in bringing the girls together, opening their eyes, and giving them a vision for the future is hugely important.”

Rachel Lawton, Senior Software Engineer at Red Hat, who also delivered an inspiring speech, said, “At RedHat, we are passionate about inspiring young women and were delighted to sponsor the event. We actively try to encourage women into the tech industry and STEM in general.” 

Encouraging aspiring women in tech, Ms Lawton said, “Unfortunately, some young girls don’t think they can work in the tech industry, but my advice to anyone with a small inkling to do so is to remember that stereotypical barriers don’t exist. Studying tech courses in college gives you a passport to the world. There’s such flexibility with what you can do with your career.”

Caoimhe O’Regan, a Transition Year student from Presentation Secondary School in Waterford, provided closing remarks, sharing her firsthand experience of her placement in Red Hat.

Declan Murphy, Guidance Councillor at Presentation Secondary School in Waterford, summed up the event by saying, “It was an amazing one-stop shop for exploring the diversity of careers in the tech industry, with fantastic and inspirational speakers. The day was an eye-opener for all the girls’ schools.”