From the classroom to the boardroom: Building alliances in STEM

We are very fortunate in Ireland to have two things in abundance – companies that are genuinely committed to initiatives that increase the pipeline for diverse talent in STEM careers; and groups of volunteers that willingly give their time to make this happen.   

How do we make sure we do this in a way that makes the best use of these important resources? This is the question we asked recently in a discussion between CWiT (Connecting Women in Technology) and the 30% Club, a global campaign supporting greater gender balance in senior decision-making roles. We came up with three great answers. 

Find your niche and excel 

With so many initiatives directed towards the STEM agenda, all equally valid, it can become a scatter gun approach.  Working out what you do best, and doing it really well starts to drive results. For CWiT, we have a strong in-school presence through programmes including Digital Futures, Teen Turn and we work with third-level students within Tech Starter. Within the 30% Club, our focus is on building a senior pipeline within businesses so a strong focus on mentoring, scholarship programmes and board ready initiatives.   

While finding a niche is important, so too is finding areas that work at a mutual level. 

Collaborate rather than compete 

Companies, and their people, only have so much bandwidth to support initiatives, so we can help our CEOs in allocating resources when we come together to ask for help rather than competing separately for airtime. When we came together, we found that of the 20+ companies supporting CWiT, almost all were also part of the 270 companies supporting the 30% Club – so a great opportunity to collaborate on key topics. 

Find areas of mutual partnership 

While finding a niche is important, so too is finding areas that work at a mutual level. The DCU STEM Teacher Intern programme is something we already work on together and by pooling our resources we’ve grown the programme from 6 placements a year at the outset to almost 50 this year. 

We’ve identified great opportunities to work together in a new alliance to drive gender progress in tech roles.  Between us, covering STEM from the classroom to the boardroom!  

Written by Gillian Harford, Country Executive, 30% Club. Originally posted here.

This article was featured in Media Planet 2021 Women in STEM campaign.

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