From education to employment

Technology company Kainos creates opportunity for young women through its work experience programme

Only 11% of engineers in Northern Ireland are female, according to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

  • Digital technology company Kainos has partnered with Speakers for Schools to tackle the gender imbalance in STEM careers.
  • More than 2,000 state school students have benefitted from work experience with Kainos in the last two years.    

Social mobility charity Speakers for Schools has teamed up with FTSE 250 digital technology company Kainos to deliver work experience in coding to female state school students, as the company looks to attract more young women into the engineering and tech sectors.

According to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, women are underrepresented in STEM industries. Only 15% of women study core STEM subjects compared to 36% of men, and they are particularly underrepresented in computer science (16%). Despite women making up almost half of Northern Ireland’s workforce, only 11% of software engineers are female.

Kainos is keen to play its part to foster the next generation of digital talent in Northern Ireland. This year alone it has offered 1,000 state school students, of all genders and from across the UK, to engage with their virtual and in-person work experience programmes.

The company’s latest initiative saw 15 female students from Ballymena Academy, Dominican College Belfast, Friends’ School, Rathmore Grammar, Sacred Heart, St Killian’s College, Strathearn School, Belfast Royal Academy and All Saints College, take part in an immersive three-day experience that saw the group working through coding challenges, presenting their findings, and learning about the different career pathways and opportunities at Kainos.

A team of female tech professionals are facilitating the work experience to inspire the female students. Including Katie, a Product Technical Consultant from Cranfield. Katie initially did work experience with an IT company whilst studying A Levels and learnt that working in IT isn’t all about coding. Her skills in communication and education have become crucial to her role at Kainos.

Katie Quinn, aged 28, Product Technical Consultant at Kainos said: 

“Having access to role models is so important in helping you to believe you can do something. When I was 16, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school until one of my teachers connected me with a technology company. Just five days of work experience with that company completely opened my eyes to a sector I’d never really considered. Within Kainos I have met so many interesting people and female role models I can aspire to become.

“Growing up in rural Ireland, my dad was a bricklayer and my mum was a teacher, so I didn’t know that working in IT involved a lot more than coding or sitting at a computer. It is a sector that is constantly evolving; my current job didn’t even exist five years ago!

“I love that in my current role at Kainos, I can go to careers fairs to inform and inspire young people considering their futures and break the stereotypes that people have about working in IT. I love bringing jobs in IT to life for students and it’s so special seeing a familiar seed of inspiration planted in their minds.”

Karen Hillis, Head of Engagement Northern Ireland, Speakers for Schools, said:

“The business case for diversity in the workplace is very clear and to achieve that we must demystify these careers at a younger age. Breaking down barriers and encouraging girls to discover STEM careers will diversify talent pipelines for employers and raise the ambitions of generations of girls to come. We welcome more businesses to step forward and offer work experience alongside proactive companies like Kainos.”

Kainos is committed to providing work experience to state school students and has held over 2,000 virtual and in-person work experiences with Speakers for Schools across the UK since 2021.

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