A project by Clare secondary school students and a multinational company is aiming to encourage more girls to pursue STEM subjects at third level.

Last week a group of female secondary school students from St Josephs Tulla visited Beckman Coulter’s East Clare site and met with senior management and scientists to get a close-up view of the company’s work. The school has developed GiftED in conjunction with the biomedical devices maker to encourage girls to consider science and engineering careers at senior cycle and third level.

Beckman Coulter is situated at O’Callaghan’s Mills and employs approximately 400 people including scientists, laboratory technicians and engineers.  It’s Irish site has a gender balanced workplace with a 54pc to 46pc ratio of females to males and a 50pc to 50pc representation of men and women in senior management roles.

Science and Maths Teacher at the Tulla school Mairead O’Brien explained, “Stage one of the programme consisted of a guided tour around the laboratories and grounds of Beckman Coulter. The girls witnessed first-hand how the company manufacture a unique range of diagnostic solutions which help medical professionals assess, diagnose and monitor conditions such as cardiac disease, metabolic functions, infectious diseases, blood disorders, cancer and many more”.

She added, “The students also witnessed the low environmental impact the company has on our local landscape by disposing of their own organic waste using their sewage treatment system and wormery along with their low carbon footprint. This is supported by the site opting for a wood-chip burner to harness renewable energy. We had a most enjoyable day. It has definitely inspired our young ladies to consider a career in science and engineering.”

Beckman Coulter Senior HR Manager Karen Kelly acknowledged, “We are committed to supporting diversity and inclusion in the workplace and in supporting girls to explore STEM careers. We were excited to facilitate the students having an informal lunch with their future female mentors from Beckman Coulter who will provide support to the girls as they embark on science projects in the coming weeks.”

“It’s the first step in what we hope will be a fruitful and rewarding collaboration with St. Joseph’s. With the GiftED programme, we want to highlight the pathways open to girls through STEM, to open their eyes to the many possibilities that a career in science can offer, and to give them an opportunity to hear first-hand from and be inspired by some of Beckman Coulter’s talented female scientists,” Site Director, Orlaith Lawler concluded.

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