Two fourth year students from Coláiste Choilm in Cork have been named as the winners of the 56th BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Cormac Harris and Alan O'Sullivan, both 16, took the top prize for a project entitled "A statistical investigation into the prevalence of gender stereotyping in 5-7 year olds and the development of an initiative to combat gender bias".

The pair presented their project in the Intermediate section in the Social and Behavioural Sciences category.

The head judge in the Social and Behavioural Sciences Group category, Professor Joe Barry, said the project aimed to determine how early gender stereotyping can be identified.

The teenagers held workshops with 376 5-7 year olds from a range of school settings with a number of different tasks including: choosing between gender-specific and gender-neutral toys; drawing and naming an engineer, and; rating male and female competency at a number of gender-specific roles.

Prof Barry said one of the most striking findings emerging from the research was that 96% of boys drew a male engineer while just over 50% of girls drew a female engineer.

"This, along with the other data, indicates that gender stereotypes emerge in young children and that they are particularly strong among boys," Prof Barry said.

"The project is particularly impressive in that Cormac and Alan also created very pertinent and useable resources for primary school teachers to combat gender stereotyping among young children," he added.

The winners received the BTYSTE perpetual trophy and the top prize of €7,500.

They will also represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, which takes place in Santander, Spain in September 2020.

The Group runners-up award was presented to Cathal O'Mara and James O'Malley, from Castletroy College in Limerick

The two 13-year-old first year students entered a project entitled 'Bin Buddy - A SMART Sorting Bin'. The students were in the Technology category at Junior level.

The award for Individual winner went to Oscar Despard, aged 17, a fifth year student from Sandford Park in Dublin.

He took the prize for his project entitled "Applying Data-Driven Experimental Analysis to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging". 

The Individual runner-up award was presented to Ava Hynes, aged 14, a second-year student at Coláiste Treasa in Cork.

Her project was entitled 'A statistical analysis of the impact of adolescent smartphone use on adolescent social anxiety and social isolation' in the Social and Behavioural Sciences category at Junior level.