On Wednesday 1st February, Dell launched an exciting new mentoring program for female computer science students at our three sites in Ireland.
This innovative mentoring program connects female students within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines to female mentors at Dell. The Ireland events were attended by 75 students and 75 experienced industry mentors with a panel of speakers from within and outside of Dell.
“The overall aim of the program is to encourage and empower female students to graduate and join the growing number of women pursuing exciting careers in science and technology” said Gillian Bergin who works as a programs director for the Dell EMC group and sits as director of the board for IT@Cork European Tech Cluster.
The genesis of the program rose from a discussion last year between myself, a member of Dell’s Talent Acquisition team, and University College Cork (UCC) student Louise Fox at a networking event. The alarming rate of females dropping out of computer science studies within third level colleges was a point of concern for us both. This sparked the idea of providing those students access to real life mentors and role models within Dell. The STEM Aspire program co-ordinates events for females studying computer science including speed mentoring, a book club, site tours and inspirational talks from female leaders within Dell. The program is now expanding to sites in Europe and the U.S.
In the words of Marian Wright Edelman – “You cannot be what you cannot see.” It’s important for these students to be able to visualise their career possibilities and to be inspired by females who have blazed this trail before them. As a diverse company, we at Dell are able to provide these students with realistic role models at every level- we have female software engineers, developers, testers, tech support, IT program managers and directors, and board-level VPs – all delighted with the opportunity to share their experience and offer advice and encouragement.
In the Cork site, Bergin also addressed the group sharing her tips on what she calls “nat-working” or “natural networking.” She urged both students and mentors to use every networking opportunity to promote the female STEM story in a positive light adding that “careers in tech are creative, exciting and rewarding and it’s up to all of us to share that message and support each other in our career journeys.”
She added that “having female mentors is proven to enhance women’s motivation and aspirations. Women who don’t know other women in STEM are likely to feel more isolated, which can undermine confidence. We want to address this issue by providing access to an empowering mentoring program.”
Student Louise Fox (above right), now in her final year of computer science studies and the first STEM Aspire Student Ambassador, also shared her experience within the program.
“I would highly recommend this program to any student looking to gain an insight into working life. It is a great opportunity to develop professional relationships with industry experts,” she said. “It has opened my eyes to the myriad of exciting careers I can pursue with a STEM qualification and the right mentoring support. The potential that stems from this program is invaluable.”