New STEM working group for ABC

Sorcha Eastwood, HR Officer at Interface Ltd & Kirsty McManus, Head of Business Development at NI Chamber, launch the Southern Area Network STEM group at Interface Craigavon's factory site.
Sorcha Eastwood, HR Officer at Interface Ltd & Kirsty McManus, Head of Business Development at NI Chamber, launch the Southern Area Network STEM group at Interface Craigavon's factory site.

A new working group to get more women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics job roles has started in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon area.

This is the third STEM group to be set up in Northern Ireland after Belfast and the North West.

The aim of the group is to bring employers together to share best practice and discuss what issues are facing women in the sector.

The ratio of male to female employees in STEM related jobs is 3 to 1 and these business groups are hoping to change that with help from the Equality Commission and the Department for the Economy.

The first meeting of the new Southern Area Network happened last quarter at Interface Ltd factory in Craigavon, one of the world’s market leaders in modular flooring products.

More than 13 business heads came together including speakers from the Employers Network for Equality in London; Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon council; NI Chamber of Commerce and local manufacturers Hyster Yale, Cubis, Terex and Greiner.

Sorcha Eastwood, HR Officer at Interface Ltd lobbied for the group to be set up. She said: “We’re a STEM industry and it is core to our future business model here at Interface to have and support these skills.

“Interface doesn’t just see itself as a market leader with our products, but also for sustainability and the hope of setting up this dedicated group is to address the underrepresentation of women in STEM roles by leading the way for other businesses to get on board and tackle this important economic issue.

“Here at Interface in Craigavon we’ve actively increased our female workforce over the past two years and have doubled the amount of women in senior logistics and quality engineering roles. This shows we’re committed to getting more women into STEM industries, not just by talking about it, but by doing it.”

The new group is hoping to get more businesses in the area involved and will hold its next meeting on May 4 at Craigavon Civic Centre.

For more information go to http://www.equalityni.org/STEM or http://www.interface.com/EU/en-GB/homepage

Sorcha Eastwood is pictured with Kirsty McManus, Head of Business Development at NI Chamber, at the launch of the Southern Area Network STEM group.