The Northern Ireland Executive’s has recognised that the future success of the Northern Ireland economy will require increased numbers of skilled workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) qualifications. A STEM business group was set up in 2013 to examine how businesses can inspire young people, male and female to consider careers in these sectors and help address the gender balance. The group comprises of companies and education centres such as QUB, UUJ, Norbrook, Schrader Electronics, All State, Citibank.
The STEM Sector
Karen Lawther and Shauna Burns from Ulster Bank were invited to speak at the Belfast STEM Employers Equality Networking in Malone House on 10th June, to discuss the topic of networking and how Ulster Bank uses its internal network, Women In Touch and its external network, BusinessWomenCan to help address the gender balance in the business community.
Shauna Burns, Ulster Bank’s Head of Mid Ulster and Fermanagh Business Centre told the members about Business Women Can which is a network to encourage and support female entrepreneurs. Karen Lawther, Ulster Bank’s Head of Markets NI spoke about Women in Touch which Ellvena Graham started in 2010. This network was featured as a good practice case study in the STEM Business subgroup’s report Addressing Gender Balance-Reaping the Gender Dividend in STEM. The aim of this internal network is to support women in managerial roles to network, share experiences, learn from each other and realise their potential.
The WIT network offers Ulster Bank employees the opportunity to develop and advance their careers, becoming involved in activities that challenge and inspire them.
Participants then discussed the benefits of networks and the speakers kindly shared their expertise in answering members’ questions.