I was invited to a careers fair organised by my old school yesterday. The idea was that past pupils would come back and be available to talk to current students and their parents about their experiences in further education and/or employment. I was past student number 78, and if memory serves, there were another five to ten past students after me on the list. For a school of about 600 students I was very impressed by those numbers. The place was also packed with interested students and parents so it was not only a good idea but also a success. I had a constant stream of students talking to me about the sciences and IT throughout the two hour event. The students were keen and enthusiastic, which was great to see. However, the students who spoke to me all had one other thing in common, they were all male.

I always hopped that as time went on the gender imbalance in the sciences and IT would sort itself out. I thought it was just a relic of long gone times that would automatically be corrected as the older generations were replaced by newer ones. That is plainly not the case in rural Ireland. I don’t think this imbalance is down to prejudices or uneven opportunities within these disciplines. That certainly was the case in the past but, I see no evidence of it now. So, it must be something else. I’ve been thinking about this all day, and I can only assume it has something to do with image. I guess school girls don’t see either science or computers as interesting. We’re going to have to change that, but I’ll be damed if I can see how. Anyone out there got any ideas?