What Prince Harry and Meghan Markle learned about STEM diversity in Dublin

13 Jul 2018

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Image: Dogpatch Labs

Silicon Republic CEO Ann O’Dea was among the selected members of a STEM diversity roundtable discussion with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Dogpatch Labs.

On their historic visit to Ireland this week, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, met a number of young coders from the CoderDojo movement as well as leaders in diversity and inclusion at a round table hosted by Dublin’s Dogpatch Labs.

The British royals visited Dogpatch Labs, based in the CHQ building in Dublin’s ‘Digital Docklands’, where their focus was on meeting some of the innovative and creative people who are helping shape Ireland’s future, including Silicon Republic’s own CEO and founder of Inspirefest, Ann O’Dea.

“The Duchess of Sussex [Meghan Markle] has long been interested in encouraging young women into the STEM sectors, so her engagement in the discussion was palpable,” said O’Dea. “Before our round table, the couple met some of the mentors from CoderDojo, and they were visibly impressed by the calibre of our young people, so it was an ideal prelude to our discussion.”

The round table featured a group of longtime inclusion champions and O’Dea said: “We had a frank and meaningful discussion on how intersectionality was key when it comes to inclusion and that, as we endeavour to make our sectors more welcoming to women, that effort needs to extend to other minorities.”

‘We had a frank and meaningful discussion on how intersectionality was key when it comes to inclusion and that, as we endeavour to make our sectors more welcoming to women, that effort needs to extend to other minorities’

The royal couple heard about commitments made, including Dogpatch Labs’ pledge to work with the Inspirefest team to host a major female and minority-focused Global Investor Day in 2019, as well as CoderDojo’s commitment to recruit 5,000 new female volunteers and youth mentors to the global movement by 2021.

“The fact that influential figures like the Duchess of Sussex are engaging in the topic of women in tech can really help elevate the conversation,” said Liz McCarthy, head of diversity and inclusion at Dogpatch Labs, who led the round table. “Further, having the Duke of Sussex at the table sends a strong signal that men can play a valuable role in amplifying women’s voices.”

Diversity round table

The diversity round table was made up of a cross-section of the tech ecosystem in Ireland, with a particular focus on leaders with a long legacy of ensuring our system is more inclusive and diverse.

Liz McCarthy, head of diversity and inclusion at Dogpatch Labs

Liz McCarthy leads Dogpatch Labs on strategic areas including diversity and inclusion, policy for start-ups, and tech for good. She previously led partnerships at Dogpatch, including Google for Entrepreneurs, helping achieve the Trailblazers Global Citizenship Award for the hub’s contribution to the global network.

Ann O’Dea, CEO and co-founder of Inspirefest and Silicon Republic

Ann O’Dea works tirelessly to champion remarkable women role models in STEM. She launched Inspirefest, a unique international sci-tech event, in order to disrupt the traditionally ‘male and pale’ tech conference calendar. As CEO of Silicon Republic, she has helped position underrepresented STEM role models in mainstream media. She is also chair of Teen-Turn, a work experience programme connecting young women to STEM careers.

Participants seated at a round table with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in an open space in Dogpatch Labs at the CHQ building

Clockwise from far left: Dr Nora Khaldi, Liz McCarthy, the Duke of Sussex Prince Harry, the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, Giustina Mizzoni, Áine Mulloy, Prof Brian MacCraith, Ann O’Dea, Vicky Twomey-Lee and Julie Sinnamon. Image: Dogpatch Labs

Dr Nora Khaldi, founder of Nuritas

One of Ireland’s top emerging women entrepreneurs, Dr Nora Khaldi’s biotech start-up Nuritas is revolutionising the discovery and use of bioactive peptides through artificial intelligence and genomics. In December 2017, the company closed a $20m Series A funding round, bringing the total invested to date to $30m.

Áine Mulloy, co-founder of GirlCrew

Áine Mulloy co-founded GirlCrew, one of Ireland’s most exciting women-led start-ups. GirlCrew is a women-only social network that recently raised €810,000 in a seed funding round to enable expansion across the US. Mulloy is a community builder and TEDx speaker who actively advocates for diversity and female empowerment.

Prof Brian MacCraith, president of Dublin City University

Prof Brian MacCraith’s extensive work to address gender imbalance in STEM education means he is regarded as one of the leading champions of diversity in Ireland. He has led multiple strategic initiatives, including the ‘Young Women in Physics’ series aimed at attracting secondary-school girls into physics careers, and is chair of the STEM Education Review Group.

Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland

Julie Sinnamon leads the Government agency responsible for the investment and growth of Irish start-ups and works in partnership with Irish entrepreneurs to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales on global markets. She is a strong proponent of initiatives that drive diversity and the building of balanced teams in the workplace.

Giustina Mizzoni, executive director of CoderDojo Foundation

Giustina Mizzoni joined CoderDojo as the first employee in January 2013. In July 2016, she was appointed as the first executive director of the CoderDojo Foundation, responsible for overseeing its programmes and operations. Last summer, she led the organisation’s merger with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, creating the world’s largest effort to create opportunities for young people to learn how to code and create.

Vicky Twomey-Lee, tech meet-up community leader

Vicky Twomey-Lee is fully immersed in the grassroots meet-up community with a particular focus on providing a welcoming environment for women to learn about tech. When it comes to Dublin’s tech scene, few people are as well connected as she. She is the founder of Coding Grace and PyLadies Dublin, the Dublin director for Women Who Code, and the diversity and inclusion adviser at Dogpatch Labs.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event celebrating the point where science, technology and the arts collide. Ultra Early Bird tickets for Inspirefest 2019 are available now.