Women in technology inspire students about scientific careers

8 Mar 2012

To coincide with International Women’s Day today, five Irish women from the fields of technology and science are challenging young students to learn more about what a modern-day scientific career is really like.

Women in Technology and Science (WITS) has created a video where the Irish scientists share insights into their careers, which vary from evolutionary genetics, marine engineering and pharmaceutical research.

The scientists include Prof Dervilla Donnelly, a retired research chemist who was instrumental in the establishment of the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland; Aoife McLysaght, a researcher in evolutionary genetics at Trinity College Dublin; and Lt Cmdr Niamh Ní Fhátharta, a marine engineer with the Irish Navy.

As part of the making of the video, the scientists shared their stories with students from Lycée Français d’Irlande and St Killian’s Deutsche Schule.

Sadhbh McCarthy, chairperson of WITS, said today the aim of the video is to showcase the variety of career opportunities for science graduates and what life as a female scientist is really like.

Speaking about how science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects are “crucial to the recovery of Ireland’s economy”, McCarthy said there is ample opportunity for graduates of these subjects right now. 

“A lack of diversity in any industry will hamper innovation and advancement so challenging the stereotypes and narrow notions of what a scientist is and what scientific research actually involves is therefore essential,” she said.

“I hope that this film will inspire more girls to view a career in STEM as a fulfilling and exciting one worth considering,” added McCarthy.

STEM careers and gender equality

WITS itself has been working for more than 20 years to promote gender equity in STEM careers and research in Ireland.  

The group provides networking opportunities, access to research and information, and offers support to women returning to STEM roles after time away from work. It also provides a ‘talent bank’, which aims to increase the number of women at senior State or private-sector ‘board’ level, said McCarthy.

Check out the video here, which WITS produced with support from Discover Science and Engineering.


Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic