As International Women’s Day is celebrated throughout the world today, here at Silicon Republic we kick off the third year of our Women Invent campaign. Ann O’Dea fills us in.
At Silicon Republic, our Women Invent campaign was a long time in the making before we kicked off proper on 8 March, 2013. For many years, Silicon Republic had been discussing internally our dismay at the lack of women putting themselves forward, or indeed agreeing, to be interviewed for our news site, or at our events.
Closely watching, as we do, some of the most exciting sectors in business and society since we went online in 2001 – from innovation and research through to engineering and of course technology – we knew first hand that there were truly amazing female inventors, researchers, makers and practitioners in science and tech out there. We felt, as Ireland’s leading media outlet on all things tech and innovation, we needed to lead the way here, and ensure they got the visibility they had earned.
This ultimately saw us up our own game in our own leadership events where, through a concerted effort, in recent years we have been hitting close to (and often bettering) a 50:50 gender ratio on stage. Keynotes over recent years have included visiting women speakers such as Sally Kallash, Emer Coleman, Dr Sue Black, Bethany Mayer, Julia Hartz and Sharon Vosmek. Local leaders featured have included Dr Ruth Freeman (SFI), Julie Sinnamon (Enterprise Ireland), Orla Feely (University College Dublin), Carolan Lennon (Eircom), Dana Strong (UPC), and Grace O'Rourke Veitch (Citrix) – to name a few.
A study in partnership
However, we knew we needed to do more. So in 2012 we started to hatch a plan, and began to seek support from those players in the tech and research community who cared about the diversity challenge in our sector. Intel was the first to come on board, giving us the momentum we needed, followed closely by Accenture Ireland, which itself has an unparalleled record in diversity in the workplace, then Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council and, of course our friends at CoderDojo.
Women Invent Tomorrow, as the campaign was called, was officially launched at Accenture’s annual International Women’s Day event in the RDS on 8 March, 2013. March 2014 saw the launch of our second year, with Twitter and ESB coming on board as new industry partners, allowing us to extend further our campaign to champion women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). We are very grateful to all those partners who have made this possible.
Highlights of the campaign have included the first gender gap research of its kind published in Ireland with Accenture, Powering economic growth; Attracting more young women into science and technology; the publication of our two-part 100 Top Women in STEM, and our weekly profiles of great women in science and tech by Claire O’Connell. Then our Female Founders Forum and celebration of 100 Top Women in STEM, which saw us gather some 500 leading women (and male allies) in the Guinness Storehouse in June 2014.
At an evening reception, Ciaran Cannon, TD, Minister for Training and Skills, opened the event, which included special addresses from Bethany Mayer of HP, founder of the Women’s Innovation Council in the US, and Cork teenager and advocate Joanne O’Riordan, who featured in the No Limbs No Limits documentary, as well as Travis Carpico, president of Fidelity Investments Ireland, sponsor of the special evening.
Silicon Republic also presented a number of special recognition awards to people whom we deemed to be positive role models for women in the STEM sectors during 2014 and beyond. Recipients ranged in age from 16 to 70+, and included women – and one man, our diversity champion – from across Ireland and further afield.
Demand for another get-together saw us run the Women Invent Meet-up in November, where more than 200 people attended a sold-out event with Sharon Vosmek of Astia, Julia Hartz, c-co-founder of Eventbrite, and the three young winners of the Google Science Fair in 2014 – Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey.
Here’s to Year Three
So today, on International Women’s Day, here we go again, kicking off our third year. New industry partners include Eircom and Fidelity Investments. You’ll see us changing the name to simply Women Invent, due to the popularity on social media of the #womeinvent hashtag and name, and we have lots of great stuff planned. In coming months we will publish Another 100 Top Women in STEM, with a whole new cohort of remarkable ladies. Keep the nominations coming in to email@example.com. There’ll be more meet-ups, some brand new research, great weekly profiles … and of course ongoing advocacy throughout the year.
Inspire 2015: Makers & Shakers
That long-time advocacy for diversity here at Silicon Republic for women in STEM, and greater diversity in the sector in general, has indeed been instrumental in allowing us create a most exciting event in June: Inspire 2015. It has seen us build up an international and local network of women and men who genuinely care about a more equal, diverse, accessible – and frankly more exciting – sector. And that network has been invaluable in helping us to curate what will be the first event of its kind in the world.
On 18-19 June, some 2,000 people will gather to hear from some of the greatest female leaders in science, technology, research, space exploration, media, outreach and politics in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin, as well as some great men. The aim is to turn the table on traditional sci-tech events with a gender ratio of around 70:30 women to men – on stage and among our delegates, but also to create an event that embraces diversity in all its shapes and forms.
Inspire 2015 will learn from the past and look at the future of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), as well as bringing arts and open debate into the mix through an exciting fringe festival in Merrion Square, with screenings and director Q&As that include premiers of CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap and Codebreaker, the Alan Turing docu-drama; music and entertainment (including some super surprise guests), and spoken word and debate, with the likes of Women for Election, GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, among others.
Speakers include astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant, MakeLoveNotPorn founder Cindy Gallop, Spacehack.org founder Ariel Waldman, Recode co-executive editor Kara Swisher, Iran expert Dr Nina Ansary, Techmums founder Dr Sue Black, Giant Spacekat co-founder Brianna Wu, Dublin’s commissioner for start-ups Niamh Bushnell, Bletchley Park researcher Kerry Howard, and 10-year-old Lauren Boyle, EU Digital Girl of the Year – plus many more.
Leaders, IT professionals, scientists, engineers, coders, programmers, entrepreneurs, investors, academics, teachers, students, businesspeople, politicians, influencers and policy-makers will gather at Inspire 2015 as we strive together to create a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming STEM sector for all.
Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.
Inspire 2015 is Silicon Republic’s unique international sci-tech event running 18-19 June in Dublin, connecting professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. Buy your early bird tickets now! Get in early and grab the ‘Two-for-one’ tickets before the end of March. You don’t want to miss this!