The All-Ireland STEM Passport for Inclusion programme is a joint initiative by Maynooth University, Microsoft Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and the Department of Education that addresses inequalities with access to STEM careers among secondary school students in socially disadvantaged communities. The programme’s innovative approach, which combines an educational qualification (Level 6 NFQ), education supports, and mentoring from industry role models, provides a unique pathway for approximately 5,000 students to progress to 3rd level education and achieve a STEM qualification. The national roll-out of the programme (2023-2025), which is funded by Microsoft, Science Foundation Ireland, and the Department of Education, will see participants graduate from partner universities, Atlantic Technological University, Munster Technological University and Maynooth University. 

The vision of STEM Passport for Inclusion is to ensure every student, irrespective of class or condition, leaves school with a quality STEM experience.
To achieve this, we have developed - 

  • A university qualification in partnership with the Microsoft Dream Space team through Maynooth University, Munster Technological University and Atlantic Technological University which sits on the national framework as a level 6, 5-credit module entitled Introduction to 21st Century STEM skills.  
  • A ‘mentoring for equality’ programme through the National Forum for Teaching and Learning, with women and men working in the STEM industry completing the module through mentoring the students and acting as role models. By educating the students and the employees who work in STEM, we are ensuring that we are using a system thinking approach to change, by removing the focus from the students themselves, and ensuring the workplace is ready to support diverse women to become the leaders of the future. 
  • STEM Resources which provides students, teachers, and employees access to all the STEM opportunities that are relevant to them. 
  • By partnering across Industry, Education (Higher and Post-Secondary), the Department of Education and SFI, we are creating a cohesive eco-system which allows young, working-class women to see their place in STEM, access pathways to STEM courses and careers, and attain STEM qualifications and mentorship. 
Next Steps of STEM Passport for Inclusion -  
In the forthcoming phase of the STEM Passport for Inclusion initiative, our intention is to build upon the accomplishments of the initial two years and extend our reach to communities that continue to be underserved and underrepresented.  

Our vision for the coming three years is to extend our reach across all four provinces of Ireland and collaborate with every Transition Year student in each DEIS school. Through the implementation of a structured program, we aim to accomplish three primary objectives: 

  • Empower 5000 girls to obtain a university-accredited STEM qualification within their respective provinces.
  • Facilitate meaningful mentorship relationships between these 5000 students and accomplished women and men working in STEM, thereby enhancing their confidence and capabilities in STEM fields.
  • Promote more equitable practices within the STEM industry by affording the individuals who work with our students the opportunity to earn a micro-credential, a level 9 award, in mentoring for STEM equity from the affiliated university. 
Impact of the STEM Passport
Since 2021 1250 girls from 38 schools have participated in the programme. They completed research pre and post participation. 

Changes in STEM Intentions and Confidence Pre and Post Participation
To establish the impact of the STEM Passport for Inclusion, paired sample t-tests were employed to examine changes in self-reported ratings of intention to study STEM and work in STEM, and confidence to study STEM and confidence to work in STEM. Results show that the STEM Passport is positively impacting students’ STEM Aspirations and STEM Confidence; there was significant increases from time one (pre STEMP) to time two (post STEMP) on all four rating scales (P<.05). There was also a significant increase in students’ self-reported knowledge of what STEM is (45%-95%), their plans to study STEM (40%-80%), and knowing a woman who worked in STEM (28%-92%). 

  1. 76% of students said they are now considering a career in STEM due to participating in the STEM Passport for Inclusion
  2. 95% of students said that the mentors had changed their view of STEM
  3. 79% of students said they were now considering studying a STEM subject
“It was amazing, probably the best course I’ve done in TY. I loved the coding and the practical elements. The way of thinking has broadened my horizons. It made me realise the extent of STEM and how many different job opportunities there are.” Student

“I really enjoyed learning how to code with python, it was new and different. My favourite part was talking to the mentors. I learned a lot from her and it was great fun.” Student

“I wanted to share a highlight from me from a parent from St. Mary's Secondary School, Mallow, Co. Cork last week whose daughter had very little interest in STEM before the programme and now has her No.1 preference on her CAO form Engineering in UCD. Great impactful story…(Teacher)

Partnership Approach
Notably, Microsoft Ireland (Education and Dreamspace), the RDI Hub,  Munster Technological University, ATU, Teen Turn, and Mercy Inchicore worked to conceive and implement this program. Thanks to the generous support of these partners, alongside funding from the SFI Discover award and the Department of Education, we've been able to create a program that ensures STEM qualifications align with the foundational skills necessary for career advancement. 

Through our mentoring program, we've successfully established a network of 600 mentors who are now equipped to support equality and appreciate the significance of diversity within STEM fields. This achievement is the result of a concerted effort involving time, shared vision, and financial backing.  

At STEM Passport for Inclusion, collaboration is at the core of our mission. While Dr. Katriona O'Sullivan leads the project, we maintain collaborative relationships with prominent figures across both industry and education. Dr. Kevin Marshall of Microsoft Education Ireland and adjunct professor in the ALL Institute, Maynooth University, Liam Cronin at RDI HUB, Michelle O'Kelly- Principal of Mercy Inchicore Secondary School, Professor Helena McMahon of Munster Technological University are all essential contributors to our cause. 

In 2023 we have extended our partnerships and work alongside AMD, Kellog, OPTUM & Revenue to ensure STEM education and employment is fair and equitable.  

Sign up here!
If you are a DEIS school sign up here 

If you want to be a mentor you can sign up here

If you are an organisation and want to be a part of this movement sign up here 

If you have a general Information enquiry