Pictured at the 9th annual I Wish STEM Showcase hybrid event 2023 are India Healy O’Connor and Portia Healy O’Connor, co-founders of payments start-up Xelda who were speakers at the event.

I Wish for more young women in science!

Stephen O’Leary

Cork scientist Ciara Judge will speak to inspire young women in science at the 10th annual I Wish Showcase at the RDS Dublin on 8 February.

With other speakers including former president Mary Robinson, over 3,000 teenage female students will attend an event that encourages girls toward careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM).

Ciara Judge returns as guest speaker, having addressed the first I Wish event in 2015 after her wins in the BT Young Scientist and Google World Science Fair. Since then, I Wish has engaged with over 60,000 students and partnered with over 50 industry partners and 80 I Wish ambassadors.

Female students are encouraged to sign up for the I Wish STEM Showcase 2024, with registration for the event open at iwish.ie/register.

With this year’s showcase, I Wish aims to change the narrative around careers in STEM. Their recent report found a gap between girls’ work-related values with the perceived values of a STEM career.

The showcase will address this by featuring role models who exemplify how careers in STEM can fulfil the values these young women seek.

One such role model is Ciara Judge, an Irish scientist, public speaker, and entrepreneur from Kinsale.

Her 2013 Young Scientist win with fellow Kinsale Community School students Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow came at the age of fifteen.

Their project investigated how the diazotroph bacteria could be used to fight world hunger through its positive effect on cereal crop germination.

The trio followed up the Irish award with international wins at the 2013 European Young Scientist and the 2014 Google Science Fair. As a result of these successes, Judge was listed as among Time’s 25 most influential teens of 2014.

Speaking ahead of the event, Judge said: “As a young girl I benefitted hugely from my involvement in youth science. I found my passion and future career and have had the opportunity to travel the world and make a difference. Showing these young women that there is so much more to careers in STEM than just being stuck in a lab all day, is an absolute privilege and I am so grateful that I Wish has invited me back.”

Reflecting on a decade of I Wish, founder Gillian Keating said: “We have seen significant positive change, we have seen increases in uptake in STEM college courses, and we have seen improvement in gender equality in STEM. However, it is clear that we need to continue to deliver I Wish to girls — both in secondary school and in primary — to ensure they make an informed choice about their future. Knowledge is key to the gateway to their future.

How we deliver it to the next generation is certainly on us.”

I Wish has extended its partnership with Iarnród Éireann and Bus Éireann for 2024, and will provide complimentary train and bus services from Cork.