The Maths Week Ireland co-founder was recognised for her contributions to the promotion of STEM in Ireland.
Today (30 September), it was announced that Maths Week Ireland co-founder Dr Sheila Donegan has been awarded the Network Ireland National Businesswoman of the Year Award in STEM.
Donegan, who is also the director of the Calmast STEM outreach hub at Waterford Institute of Technology, was described as a “passionate advocate and driver of STEM skills development nationally” at the Network Ireland ceremony.
She has held her role at Calmast since 2003. During her time there, she has actively promoted STEM regionally, nationally and internationally. Its activities reach 30,000 annually in the south-east region, and a further 400,000 nationally during Maths Week.
‘This award endorses the importance of work in promoting STEM, which is benefitting women and wider society’
– DR SHEILA DONEGAN
Donegan co-founded Maths Week Ireland with her colleague Eoin Gill in 2006. Its model is now being replicated in the UK and has inspired similar events in other countries. This year, Maths Week takes place from 12 to 20 October.
Importance of promoting STEM
Donegan said: “I’m delighted and honoured to win this prestigious award. It’s great to see the importance of STEM recognised by Network Ireland with this new award.
“It’s important that everyone, and in particular girls and young women, realise that there are many rewarding careers in STEM available to them. I hope that by winning this award, I can continue to work as a role model and encourage more young women to engage with STEM.
“This award endorses the importance of work in promoting STEM, which is benefitting women and wider society, and which needs greater focus particularly for young women.”
Donegan has previously won a number of national and international awards for her work, including the 2006 EU Descartes Award for science communication, which was previously won by David Attenborough and Bill Bryson. Donegan won the award for her primary school science magazine Eureka, which was also made in collaboration with Gill.
Updated, 1.30pm, 30 September 2019: This article was updated to note that Calmast’s activities reach 30,000 annually in the south-east, and to clarify that Maths Week has inspired similar events in other countries.