Women Invent: 100 top women in science, technology, engineering and maths – Part 1

11 Mar 2014

As Silicon Republic’s Women Invent Tomorrow campaign launches for a second year, we publish Part 1 of our listing of some of the leading women in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths.

From world-leading academics to inspiring science communicators, from tech business leaders to early entrepreneurs, we were truly spoilt for choice here, so here we publish the first of two lists of some of Ireland’s leading women in the knowledge economy.

It seems ironic to hear some event organisers and media outlets bemoan the dearth of women role models in this sector. Once we set out to gather nominations for what was originally intended to be just one list of 50, we found ourselves spoilt for choice! So here is the first list of 50, and watch out for the next 50!

 Mary Aiken Mary Aiken, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Cyberpsychology)

Mary Aiken is a cyberpsychologist and research fellow at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland’s Institute of Leadership. Her research looks at the impact of emerging technology on human behaviour, including the negative aspects, such as cyberbullying, criminal activities and anxiety. Her work has explored areas such as human trafficking, cybersecurity and online profiling, and has inspired a potential new spin-off of the TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

 Grainne Barron Grainne Barron, Viddyad (Entrepreneurship, media)

Dublin entrepreneur Grainne Baron’s cloud-based video ad-creation tool Viddyad was named winner of the 2013 ESB Spark of Genius Award at the Dublin Web Summit in October, picking up a cash prize of €25,000. Barron is a media industry professional with more than 15 years of experience in traditional video advertising and digital media, coupled with board-level technical and sales expertise. She has worked with NBC New York, NBC California and was sales director with Windmill Lane Studios.

 Emer Coleman Emer Coleman, DISRPTN (Entrepreneurship, open data)

London-based Irishwoman Emer Coleman was named in Wired magazine’s Top 100 Digital Power Influencers List 2011. Until late 2012, she was director of digital projects for the Greater London Authority with responsibility for development of the London Datastore, a project to release all of London’s public-sector data into the public domain. She was adviser to central government on data release, Local Government Open Data Panel and Home Office Crime and Justice Transparency panel. She is the founder of Disruption Ltd.

 Marian Corcoran Marian Corcoran, Accenture (Leadership, advocacy)

Marian Corcoran is a client director in Accenture’s Strategy Business and is a director of Accenture in Ireland. She recently sponsored Accenture’s research, ‘Powering economic growth: Attracting more young women into science and technology’, as part of the Women Invent Tomorrow campaign with Silicon Republic. She is also a strong advocate of the importance of skills in science and technology as an enabler for young women to actively participate and succeed in the new digital economy. In her spare time, Corcoran is relearning coding with her son at CoderDojo in Dublin City University (DCU). She has a BSc in biotechnology from DCU and is a chartered director at the Institute of Directors in Ireland.

 Edel Creely Edel Creely, Irish Software Association (Leadership, software)

Edel Creely was involved in setting up Trilogy Technologies, following the acquisition of IT Focus and the merger of Team DBA, and is now managing director. With more than 20 years of experience in IT, she was previously managing director of Datapac and is highly regarded across the industry. She has served on many industry groups, including the Microsoft and VMware Partner Councils. In April 2013, she was appointed chair of the Executive Council of the Irish Software Association. She was invited by the Irish Government to participate in The Global Irish Economic Forum in 2009, 2011 and 2013. She graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a degree in engineering.

 Catherine Cronin Catherine Cronin, NUI Galway (Education, engineering)

Catherine Cronin is academic co-ordinator of online IT programmes and lecturer in information technology at NUI Galway. Her work focuses on online and open education, digital literacies, and social media in education. In addition to her teaching and research, she works with schools and community groups exploring these areas. Cronin is also pursuing a PhD in open education and digital identity practices. She holds a BSc in mechanical engineering, M.Eng in systems engineering, and MA in women’s studies, where her dissertation topic was gender and technology. Using the Twitter hashtag #ITwomen, she has collated a list of women speakers and conference keynote speakers as a resource for planning gender-inclusive tech conferences.

 Julie Cullen Julie Cullen, Young Advisor to Neelie Kroes (Education, advocacy)

Julie Cullen is a secondary school teacher (English and European studies) in Drogheda, Co Louth, and has been teaching for eight years. Since completing a master’s degree in education with a focus on e-learning, she has become an advocate of digital learning, creating her own class blog where students can interact with other students from all over the world. Today she is one of 25 Young Advisors to Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission, which has Cullen travel to Brussels and advise Kroes on issues related to education, technology and more. In October, Cullen was Irish Ambassador for European Code Week, which saw Ireland lead more coding workshops than any other European country.

 Julie Davenport Julia Davenport, Fidelity Investments Ireland (Leadership, software)

As senior vice-president and country head of Fidelity Investments Ireland, Julia Davenport heads up a 500-strong IT workforce at the US financial services giant, in areas such as apps, UX design, financial services, financial investigation requirements, and coding and engineering. Originally a liberal arts graduate, Davenport graduated from Cornell University in the late 1970s, specialising in business and computer studies. After stints with Kindle and AIG, Davenport joined Fidelity in 1996. Today her role is to develop her organisation to support the global IT needs of Fidelity, a business with more than 41,000 employees.

 Dervilla Donnelly Prof Dervilla Donnelly, University College Dublin (Chemistry, academia)

Prof Dervilla Donnelly was one of the founding members of WITS (Women In Technology and Science), and is the emeritus professor of organic chemistry at University College Dublin. Since 1996, she has been chair of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. She has also been chair of the Interim Review Group for Institutions in the Technological Sector since 1997. Her interest in science is reflected in her involvement as chair of the Evaluation Committee OECD Programme – Megascience Forum, Council Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Member of the Standing Committee of ESF, Life and Environmental Science Committee, and Physical and Engineering Science Committee. She was the first female president of the Royal Dublin Society.

 Fiona Doohan Dr Fiona Doohan, UCD Earth Institute (Biology, environment)

Dr Fiona Doohan is the designate director of UCD Earth Institute, and a senior lecturer at University College Dublin (UCD)’s School of Biology and Environmental Science. She is researching environmentally friendly and sustainable ways to boost the adaptability of crops to stresses, and she has a particular expertise in plant-microbe interactions. Wheat is an important focus of her research, and she has identified several key genes and proteins involved in the crop’s defence against disease and cold tolerance. She is also working with Teagasc to develop technologies for genetic modification.

 Eileen Drew Prof Eileen Drew, WiSER at Trinity College Dublin (Academia, advocacy)

Prof Eileen Drew is director of Women in Science, Engineering and Research (WiSER) at Trinity College Dublin. She is a graduate of Trinity and the University of Bradford, and was elected to fellowship of Trinity College Dublin in 1999. She is associate professor in the School of Computer Science and Statistics. Her research has involved the analysis of labour market and demographic statistics at national and EU level, with particular reference to gender issues, such as low pay, segregation and flexible working practices. Her career has included research, training and consultancy for EU NOW and Leonardo da Vinci Projects.

 Tanya Duncan Tanya Duncan, Interxion (Leadership, data centres)

With more than 15 years in the ICT industry, Tanya Duncan began her career in the telecoms sector with roles at both KPNQwest and Esat BT. She joined Interxion in 2001, where she was appointed managing director in 2005. Tanya is also vice-chair of the Telecoms Internet Federation Outsourcing Group in Ireland. With both a business and technical background, Duncan has been a driving force in the establishment of Interxion as a major player in the data-centre market in Ireland. She holds a degree in mechanical and manufacturing engineering from Trinity College Dublin, as well as a post-graduate degree in business studies.

 Orla Feely Prof Orla Feely, University College Dublin (Engineering, leadership)

Orla Feely joined University College Dublin (UCD) in 1992, and has just been appointed VP for Research, Innovation and Impact at the university. She is also chair of the Irish Research Council, and continues to work as a professor in the School of Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering. She received a BE degree in electronic engineering from UCD and MS and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. She is also a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Engineers Ireland.

 Edel Flynn Edel Flynn, Digital Hub Development Agency (Leadership, property)

Edel Flynn is CEO of the Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA), the Irish State agency charged with managing The Digital Hub, an international centre of excellence for growing digital enterprises, based in Dublin city centre. Since its inception 10 years ago, more than 170 companies have progressed through the Hub, including such names as Daft, Havok, Houghton Mifflin (Riverdeep), Amazon and Gala Networks Europe. Today tenants include Etsy, Eventbrite and Silicon Republic. Flynn was appointed CEO of the DHDA in April 2013, having served as chief operations officer with the agency for more than six years.

 Una Fox Una Fox, Walt Disney Company (Leadership, advocacy)

Los Angeles-based Una Fox, who hails from Dundalk, heads up the Women’s Leader Group at The Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG), which is chaired by former Intel CEO Craig Barrett. As VP Enterprise Data Technology at The Walt Disney Company, Fox is one of the most senior women at Disney in California, and a leading advocate of diversity in the technology sector. She is also the founder of CoderDojo LA.

 Maire Geoghan Quinn Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner (Research, politics)

The European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn is a long-time Irish politician. She previously served as a Fianna Fáil TD for the Galway West constituency from 1975 to 1997, and served in a number of ministries in Ireland in the early 1980s and early 1990s. She oversaw the launch of the European Union’s new €80bn R&D and innovation programme to create jobs and drive economic growth in Europe – the largest European fund to date to support research and innovation.

 Cathriona O'Hallahan Cathriona Hallahan, Microsoft (Leadership, software)

In February of 2013, Hallahan became the new managing director of Microsoft’s Irish division, having previously been managing director of Microsoft’s EMEA Operations Centre. Hallahan has been with Microsoft since 1986, when she joined the company as an accounts clerk in the finance department. She progressed consistently through the organisation. She is also a member of the board of the American Chamber of Commerce and VHI Healthcare.

 Emmeline Hill Emmeline Hill, Equinome (Entrepreneurship, genetics)

Emmeline Hill is a co-founder and chairman of Equinome. She is one of Ireland’s most prominent genomics scientists and leads the Equine Exercise Genomics research group at the College of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin (UCD), where she is a lecturer in equine science. She joined UCD in 2002 with a BA in genetics and a PhD in molecular population genetics from Trinity College Dublin. In 2000, she and Prof Patrick Cunningham published one of the first molecular genetic research studies of thoroughbreds that identified errors in The General Stud Book. In 2004, she received a Science Foundation Ireland President of Ireland Young Researcher Award. (Photo by Paul Sherwood)

 Diane Hodnett Diane Hodnett, Sea Fibre Networks (Leadership, infrastructure)

Diane Hodnett is the CEO of Sea Fibre Networks, owner and operator of one of Europe’s most advanced sub-sea telecoms network, CeltixConnect. She has had many senior executive appointments in the telecoms/technology sector. She held the position of director of corporate development with euNetworks, a pan-European telecom company, where she played a major role in listing the company on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

 Ann-Marie Holmes Ann-Marie Holmes, Fab 24, Intel Ireland (Engineering, leadership)

With Intel Ireland since 1991, when she joined as a process engineer, Ann-Marie Holmes has progressed through the ranks, and in 2011 she was promoted to her current role as Intel’s Fab 24 factory manager. In this position she is responsible for all aspects of advanced manufacturing taking place in Fab 24 on the existing 65nm technology node. She was the originator of the women in technology pipeline, which was designed to create opportunities for female technical employees at Intel.

 Brid Horan Bríd Horan, ESB (Leadership, finance)

Bríd Horan is deputy chief executive of ESB, a company with a long history of innovation and now moving to electrify car transport and to bring fibre-powered broadband to Irish homes. In her previous role as executive director, Horan led the transformation of ESB’s retail businesses from a regulated model to a fully competitive and newly branded business, Electric Ireland. Her appointment as deputy CEO last year caught the eye of many, as it is the most senior appointment of a woman in the company’s history. An actuary and a chartered director, Horan has also held a number of non-executive directorships, chairs the Investment Committee of Novus Modus – ESB’s clean-tech investment fund – and is an ardent champion of women in maths, engineering and technology.

 Ann Kelleher Ann Kelleher, Intel (Engineering, leadership)

Macroom, Co Cork, native Ann Kelleher two years ago became the first Irish woman to be appointed vice-president at chip giant Intel. Kelleher had been managing a chip plant called Fab 11X in New Mexico, and prior to that, had been the factory manager of Fab 24 in Leixlip, Co Kildare. Today, Kelleher is vice-president of Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group and co-general manager of Fab Sort Manufacturing, where she is responsible for seven Intel plants in Ireland, the US, China and Israel.

 Muirne Laffan Múirne Laffan, RTÉ Digital (Leadership, media)

Múirne Laffan is managing director of RTÉ Digital and a member of the RTÉ executive board. Responsible for leading RTÉ’s overall digital strategy, she is a graduate of the College of Marketing at Dublin Institute of Technology. She played a pivotal role in the set up of McCann Interactive in 1994 in its New York office, and was a member of the leadership team that created Universal McCann. In 2001, she joined RTÉ, and leads the team that created a successful portfolio of digital brands, including www.rte.ie and the RTÉ Player.

 Carolan Lennon Carolan Lennon, eircom Wholesale (Leadership, communications)

Carolan Lennon was appointed managing director of eircom Wholesale in May 2013. There she oversees the Wholesale division that is responsible for the access and support to the many other telecommunications operators that use the Eircom network. Previously, she was chief commercial officer across the consumer and small business segment. Lennon is a highly regarded figure in the telecommunications and technology sectors, with many years of experience. She previously worked in Vodafone Ireland as consumer director and prior to that held a number of strategic marketing roles, including marketing director. Before joining Vodafone, she worked with the Hibernian group and held a number of different technology roles in Allianz.

 Sonya Lennon Sonya Lennon, Frockadvisor (Entrepreneurship, fashion)

Sonya Lennon, stylist and TV presenter, has turned her eye to fusing technology with retail. Together with her fellow presenter Brendan Courtney from the RTÉ fashion show Off the Rails, Lennon is behind a new digital platform for independent fashion retailers called Frockadvisor, which gets a full launch at the end of March. Describing Frockadvisor as a “dedicated fashion social commerce platform”, Lennon says the goal is to give independent retailers an online destination from which to offer a personal service to customers.

 Edel Lynch Edel Lynch, Accenture (Physics, analytics)

We were spoilt for choice when it came to women at Accenture, given that more than 30pc of its senior executives are women. At a time when data and data analytics is becoming such a crucial sector within the tech industry, Edel Lynch was a clear choice for inclusion, as she heads up Accenture’s Analytics Innovation Centre in Ireland. She has a master’s degree from Queen’s University Belfast, and a degree in applied physics from NUI Galway. In order to tackle the lack of understanding of data science in schools, Accenture and the Irish Maths Association are running an initiative that has so far seen more than 250 students in 12 schools across Ireland take part in a pilot programme for transition-year students.

 Anita Maguire Prof Anita Maguire, University College Cork (Chemistry, academia)

Prof Anita Maguire is vice-president for Research and Innovation at University College Cork (UCC). She is actively engaged nationally in policy development in relation to research, STI policy, the academic industry collaboration and strategic development of the pharmaceutical industry, including as a member of the Advisory Science Council and the Irish Research Council. She completed her undergraduate and post-graduate studies in chemistry at UCC. Following post-doctoral research abroad, she returned to the Department of Chemistry in UCC in 1991. At UCC she has played a strategic role in the development of teaching and learning, including the introduction of medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry at undergraduate level for the first time. She was elected to the Governing Body of University College Cork in December 2003.

 Julie McEnery Julie McEnery, NASA (Astrophysics, astronomy)

Julie McEnery is the Fermi Project scientist and an astrophysicist in the Astroparticle Physics Laboratory, Astrophysics Science Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She is also an adjunct professor of physics at the University of Maryland’s College Park campus. She is a member of several organisations and instrument teams, including the American Physical Society, the American Astronomical Society, the Milagro Collaboration, and the VERITAS Collaboration. McEnery received her BSc in physics with astrophysics from the University of Manchester and her PhD in physics from University College Dublin.

 Susan McKenna Lawlor Susan McKenna-Lawlor (Astrophysics, academia)

Susan McKenna-Lawlor is one of Ireland’s leading scientists and a world authority in the previously male-dominated field of astrophysics. Born in Dublin in 1935, she became professor of experimental physics at NUI Maynooth. She also founded her own company, Space Technology Ireland, to build instrumentation for scientific missions to space. McKenna-Lawlor’s experiements have been included in missions by the European Space Agency, NASA, and the Russian, Chinese and Japanese space agencies. She played an important part in the path-breaking Giotto probe, which encountered Halley’s comet in 1986 and has featured in subsequent missions to the moon, Mars and Venus. Her work has seen her elected to the International Academy of Astronautics. Read about her role in the comet-chasing Rosetta mission here. (Photo via astronomy.ie)

 Aoife Mclysaght Aoife McLysaght, Trinity College Dublin (Genetics, communications)

Aoife McLysaght is the principal investigator in the Molecular Evolutionary Laboratory and lecturer in genetics at Trinity College Dublin. An accomplished geneticist, you are as likely to encounter McLysaght through her public engagement work, which includes talks at schools, TEDx and Ignite, and as a guest on The Infinite Monkey Cage on BBC Radio, and in Brian and Robin’s Compendium of Reason at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. She is a key figure in science communications in Ireland and an advocate for greater inclusivity and diversity in science.

 Eucharia Meehan Dr Eucharia Meehan, Irish Research Council (Academia, research)

Dr Eucharia Meehan is Director of the Irish Research Council, which provides funding to researchers across all disciplines so as to support the diverse needs of the economy and society, with a focus on researchers at an early stage in their careers. She is also senior policy adviser to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on research and innovation. She was previously Head of Research and Capital Programmes at the HEA, where she directed the Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI), which primarily invested in developing the national research infrastructure. Prior to this she was part of the senior management team at Elan Biotechnology Research (EBR). A pharmacologist and biochemist by training, she was recently elected a member of the board of ScienceEurope.

 Regina Moran Regina Moran, Fujitsu Ireland (Leadership, engineering)

Regina Moran has been CEO of Fujitsu Ireland since 2006. She she leads a 350-strong team focused on delivering ICT services to the Irish marketplace. Like Ann Kelleher, Moran is an engineer by training. After qualifying, her career began as an electronics engineer with Amdahl, a computer mainframe manufacturer, where she progressed to become a co-founder of the services and consulting group there. In 1997, Moran co-founded DMR Consulting Ireland, which later became Fujitsu Consulting and subsequently merged with Fujitsu Services in April 2004. She is vice-president of Engineers Ireland and a director of EirGrid.

 Joan Mulvihill Joan Mulvihill, Irish Internet Association (Leadership, advocacy)

Joan Mulvihill has been CEO of the Irish Internet Association since November 2009, where she has worked with tech start-ups, and supported traditional businesses in the adoption of web-based technologies. She has led various initiatives, such as ‘Digitise the Nation’, to bridge the digital divide; and national policy to address the digital skills shortage. Last year, she received a European award for Innovation Leadership at the inaugural Innovation Luminary Awards established by the EU Open Innovation Strategy and Policy Group.

 Mary Mulvihill Mary Mulvihill, Ingenious Ireland (Communications, media)

As well as running Ingenious Ireland, Mary Mulvihill is a long-time science journalist, and continues to work as a media and communications consultant, helping researchers to explain their work to general audiences. Her award-winning book, Ingenious Ireland, is a county-by-county guide to the country’s scientific, industrial and natural heritage. Her other books include two collections of biographies of historic Irish women scientists, Lab Coats and Lace (2009), and Stars, Shells and Bluebells (1997). She has presented numerous science radio series and documentaries and was a co-founder of the Women in Technology and Science network (WITS). Mulvihill kindly curated our list of 10 Great Irish Women Inventors, as part of Women Invent Tomorrow.

 Margaret Murnane Margaret Murnane, University of Colorado (Physics, Boyle Medal Winner)

Margaret Murnane, distinguished professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder, United States, is a winner of the prestigious Boyle Medal for Scientific Excellence for her pioneering work in transforming the field of ultrafast laser and X-ray science. She designed the first laser able to pulse in the low trillionths of a second range, which allows time almost to be halted to capture a freeze-frame view of the world. She also developed a tabletop X-ray laser using very short laser pulses to generate coherent beams of X-rays. Born in Limerick, and a graduate in physics from University College Cork, she is only the second female Boyle Medal Laureate in the medal’s history.

 Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh, Sugru (Entrepreneurship)

Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh is the creator of Sugru, a patented multi-purpose, non-slumping brand of silicone rubber that resembles modeling clay. Hailing from Kilkenny, Ní Dhulchaointigh studied product design as a post-graduate research student at the Royal College of Art, where she conceived the idea for the substance in 2003 while using mixtures of standard silicone sealants and sawdust in her work. After receiving business grants, Ní Dhulchaointigh worked with retired scientists from Dow Corning and a silicone expert over a seven-year period at the materials department at Queen Mary, University of London, to develop Sugru.

 Valeria Nicolosi Valeria Nicolosi, Trinity College Dublin (Academia, nanoscience)

Valeria Nicolosi, a research professor at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) last year scooped €150,000 in funding from the European Research Council for a one-year nanotechnology project that homes in on enabling new 2D-based nanomaterials to one day potentially pioneer ultra-thin, flexible supercapacitors for energy storage. Italian-born Nicolosi works between both the nanoscience institute CRANN at TCD, and the university’s chemistry and physics schools, and is the only Irish-based researcher to receive funding from this latest round of ERC grants.

 Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Trinity College Dublin (Communications, physics)

Currently studying for a PhD at Trinity College Dublin, School of Education, in mathematics education, Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin graduated with a first class honours degree in theoretical physics from University College Dublin. She is passionate about education and has taught mathematics, physics, science and applied mathematics at secondary level. She is a facilitator on the Project Maths team, training teachers in the new strands of the mathematics syllabus and is co-ordinator and lecturer of mathematics pedagogy in the School of Education at Trinity. She is the teacher representative on the Department of Education and Skills’ ‘Project Maths Implementation Support Group’.

 Leonora O'Brien Leonora O’Brien, Pharmapod (Entrepreneurship, health tech)

Leonora O’Brien is the founder and CEO of Irish technology start-up Pharmapod, and last year won the top European prize in The Global Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. O’Brien and her Pharmapod team have developed a platform to enable knowledge sharing amongst pharmacists and stakeholders worldwide using cloud based-software. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 15 years but in 2012, she left her job at the Pharmacy Regulator to devote herself to the Pharmapod project full time.

 Ann O'Leary Anne O’Leary, Vodafone (Leadership, communications)

In February 2013, Anne O’Leary was appointed CEO of Vodafone. The appointment not only represented the first appointment of a female executive to lead the company since Teresa Elder held the role in 2006, it actually represents the first appointment of a native Irish CEO to lead the mobile operator since it came to Ireland with the acquisition of Eircell a decade ago. O’Leary joined Vodafone Ireland from BT Ireland in 2008 as enterprise director.

 Marion Palmer Dr Marion Palmer, WITS (Academia, advocacy)

With more than 15 years in higher education, Marion Palmer‘s research interests are teaching, assessment and technology-enhanced learning, and she researched teaching in Irish higher education for her 2009 EdD. She is chair of the Learning Innovation Network Coordination Group and a NAIRTL Award of Teaching Excellence winner for 2011. She was a founding member, and is current chair, of WITS (Women in Technology and Science) and was chair of the Educational Developers in Ireland Network (EDIN) 2009-2011. She is a fellow of the UK Staff and Educational Development Association and of the UK Higher Education Academy. She was formerly a science teacher at schools in Dublin and London and worked on curriculum development with the NCCA. So many of the ladies from WITS could appear here, but we’ve included Palmer as current chair.

 Louise Phelan Louise Phelan, PayPal (Leadership, advocacy)

PayPal’s Ireland-based vice-president of Global Operations for Europe, Middle East and Africa, is Laois native Louise Phelan. Based in Blanchardstown, Dublin, PayPal’s European Centre of Excellence employs almost 1,500 people. Phelan joined PayPal in 2006 as CS and Risk director for the EU and now heads up the Irish operation. Prior to joining PayPal, Phelan was a member of the senior management team for GE Money. She is on the board of the American Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, CCMA Ireland.

 Ena Prosser Dr Ena Prosser, Fountain Healthcare Partners (immunology, investment)

Dr Ena Prosser is a partner in Fountain Healthcare Partners. A PhD immunologist by training, she has a broad background in international alliance and intellectual property management, and was formerly director of Enterprise Ireland BIO. Prior to that she held various R&D and project management roles within Elan Corporation. She has a strong innovation policy background and is a member of the Irish Government Innovation Taskforce in Intellectual Property, as well as being a council member of the Irish BioIndustry Association. She is also an adjunct professor at University College Dublin.

 Sinead Ryan Prof Sinéad Ryan, Trinity College Dublin (Physics, education)

Theoretical physicist Prof Sinéad Ryan is head of the School of Mathematics at Trinity College Dublin, and the only woman in that department. She has seen first-hand how few girls have traditionally chosen her career path. She completed an undergraduate degree in physics in University College Cork, then went on to complete a PhD in Edinburgh. She worked as a research scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FermiLab) in the USA until 2000. Her research interests are in theoretical particle physics. She has served on the boards of Trinity College Dublin, the School of Theoretical Physics at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and the Science Gallery, as well as the Royal Irish Academy Committee for Mathematical Sciences.

 Anna Scally Anna Scally, KPMG in Ireland (Advice, finance)

Anna Scally is a partner with KPMG in Ireland, and has extensive experience in advising multinational companies. She is passionate about the necessity to foster innovation and create entrepreneurial companies, and advises a number of start-up tech companies on fundraising, structuring shareholding arrangements, rewarding founders and employees and growing global operations. She mentors on the Startupbootcamp accelerator programme.

 Julie Sinnamon Julie Sinnamon, Enterprise Ireland (Leadership, enterprise support)

Julie Sinnamon last year became the first ever female CEO of Enterprise Ireland. Sinnamon’s career spans lengthy stints at both IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, where she gained considerable experience in a variety of industry sectors and international markets. Most recently, she was executive director for Global Business Development in Enterprise Ireland. Sinnamon has a master’s degree in international business (Fordham & IMI) and is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Programme. She has a particular interest in promoting female entrepreneurship among EI-backed companies.

 Emma Teeling Emma Teeling, University College Dublin (Genomics, research)

Prof Emma Teeling is a leading international scientist in the fields of mammalian phylogenetics and comparative genomics. She challenges the generally accepted demonisation of bats and argues that their unique and fascinating biology gives us insight into our own genetic makeup. What is more, they are essential for the ecosystem to function – without bats, plants and even entire industries could die, according to Teeling. She is also director of the Centre for Irish Bat Research at Science Centre West, University College Dublin. She believes the study of bats and their unique sensory abilities allow us to gain great insight into human diseases of the senses, such as blindness and deafness – and that the secret of everlasting youth lies within the bat’s DNA.

 Zoryana Tischenko Zoryana Tischenko, IBM (Software, education)

Originally from Ukraine, Zoryana Tischenko moved to Ireland when she was 16. She is about to complete a degree in information technologies and information systems at Dublin Insitute of Technology (DIT), while also working full time as a software engineer at IBM, where she has worked since September 2012. Shortly after joining the company, she discovered the newly started CoderDojo on campus and quickly started mentoring. She worked closely with Bill Liao of CoderDojo to introduce CoderDojo to IBMers worldwide, and as a result CoderDojo was established as an official IBM Academy of Technology community give-back initiative for 2014. She was also project manager on the development of CoderDojo.org, and is working on a project at IBM to enable remote mentoring.

 Rhona Togher Rhona Togher, Restored Hearing (Entrepreneurship, health)

Rhona Togher is a co-founder and CEO of Restored Hearing, an Irish venture that is pioneering therapeutic solutions for people who suffer from tinnitus. The idea for Restored Hearing was first developed in 2009 when then Leaving Cert students Togher and Eimear O’Carroll entered the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. Since setting up Restored Hearing, both Togher and O’Carroll have gone on to study physics at University College Dublin and the University of Edinburgh, respectively, while still developing the business, which is now based in Sligo. The company is developing further solutions, including noise-cancelling headphones, using its new Sound Sponge product.

 Vicky Twomey Lee Vicky Twomey-Lee, Python Ireland (Coding, events)

Vicky Twomey-Lee is a ‘Pythonista’ who organises events and workshops around coding, and in particular Python, all not for profit. She organises the PyCon Ireland conference, the largest annual gathering of the Irish Python community. Its stated goal is to “create an inclusive, respectful conference environment that invites participation from people of all races, ethnicities, genders, ages, abilities, religions, and sexual orientations”, and indeed it has introduced a ‘Diversity Programme’, which provides grants to cover travel, accommodation and conference tickets to encourage those who require financial assistance. She runs PyLadies Dublin, and is co-founder of Coding Grace and Global GameCraft. (Photo by Paula Banks/Python Ireland)

We cannot emphasise enough that this is simply a representative sample of inspiring role models among the Irish community of women in STEM. Many more appear in our next list of 50, and do feel free to nominate someone you know (or indeed yourself) via email at womeninvent@siliconrepublic.com or on Twitter at @siliconrepublic.

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, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

Women in STEM image via Shutterstock

Ann O’Dea
By Ann O’Dea

Ann O’Dea is CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic, an online source of science and technology news since 2001. She was also the founder and curator of Inspirefest, a unique international sci-tech event that aimed to disrupt the traditionally homogenous tech conference calendar. Today, that event has evolved into Future Human to showcase the leaders building the products and services for a new tomorrow. Ann is a fellow of the Irish Computer Society and the Institute of Art, Design & Technology. She received a Net Visionary award from the Irish Internet Association in 2015 for her work on ensuring the visibility of women role models in her industry, and was named Media Woman of the Year at the 2014 Irish Tatler Women of the Year Awards. In 2015, she was the first woman to be inducted into the Irish Internet Association’s Hall of Fame. Ann sits on the advisory board of TeenTurn, which provides teenage girls with experience in STEM.

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