A special reception to celebrate leading women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) was held by Silicon Republic last week, and attended by many remarkable women leaders from Ireland and abroad – and quite a few men.
The reception at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin was designed to celebrate those women who made our inaugural 100 Top Women in STEM list this year, and was opened by Ciaran Cannon, TD, Minister for Training and Skills.
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, a diversity champion – from across Ireland and further afield.
The evening 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 recently featured in the No Limbs No Limits documentary, as well as Travis Carpico, president of Fidelity Investments Ireland, sponsor of the special evening.
'So many great women'
"The list of 100 was designed to be a representative sample of the remarkable women working in areas of science, technology, engineering and the digital industries," said Ann O'Dea, CEO of Silicon Republic, who spearheads the Women Invent Tomorrow campaign. "We uncovered so many great women, that we're already working on the next list of 100. We will inevitably miss people, so we do encourage our community to nominate role models of which they are aware.
"Women make up only 25pc of those working in research, tech and science in Ireland, with some of the more technical roles attracting much lower proportions of women. One reason often cited for this under-representation is a lack of female role models, and indeed the young women and girls we talk to tell us the same thing anecdotally," O'Dea added. "At Silicon Republic, we see close up the remarkable women doing amazing work in these sectors. So we believe that the problem is less a lack of role models; it's rather a lack of visibility. We're trying to change that. People can't aspire to be something they can't see.
"The reception last week was to honour those 100 women, and to make a number of special awards to people who we feel are really going the extra mile in serving as positive role models in the STEM sectors," said O'Dea. "We have no illusions that there's lots more to be done when it comes to reversing the gender imbalance in these sectors, and ensuring all talented women feel welcomed and appreciated in sectors that offer such exciting career possibilities. But sometimes it is good also to step back and celebrate the positives."
The special awards presented at the 100 Top Women in STEM event included:
• Top Role Model 2014: International – Bethany Mayer, HP. Mayer is one of the most senior figures in HP's global operations, and founder of the Women's Innovation Council in the US. Her award was presented by Ann O'Dea, CEO of Silicon Republic:
• Top Role Model 2014: Global Reach – Ann Kelleher, Intel. A native of Macroom, Co Cork, two years ago, Kelleher became the first Irish woman to be appointed vice-president at chip giant Intel. Previously, she had managed 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, she 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. Her award at the Silicon Republic event was presented by Travis Carpico, president of Fidelity Investments Ireland:
• Top Role Model 2014: Bridging the Digital Divide – Liz Waters, An Cosán. Waters is CEO of An Cosán, an organisation committed to the eradication of poverty through education. Under her leadership, An Cosán recently announced the rollout across Ireland of online virtual learning programmes in partnership with IT Carlow, with the support of ESB and Accenture. The organisation hopes 500 students will undertake courses online over the lifetime of this three-year project. Waters' award was presented by Mark Ryan, country managing director for Accenture Ireland:
• Top Role Model 2014: Engineering – Regina Moran, Fujitsu Ireland. Moran is CEO of Fujitsu Ireland and was recently appointed president of Engineers Ireland, the professional body for engineers and engineering in Ireland. Her award was presented to her by Pat O'Doherty, CEO of ESB:
• Top Role Model 2014: Social Media – Catherine Cronin, NUI Galway. Cronin is academic co-ordinator of online IT programmes and a lecturer in information technology at NUI Galway. Her work focuses on online and open education, digital literacies, and social media in education. 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. Her award was presented by Sinead McSweeney, Twitter's director of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa:
• Top Role Model 2014: Advocacy – WITS. Women in Technology and Science (WITS) is a forum that has been running for 22 years. It works to improve the recruitment and retention of women in STEM roles and is a strong advocate for celebrating the past and current successes of women in STEM. At the Silicon Republic event, the WITS award was presented to the organisation's current chair, Marion Palmer, and other members, by Orla Feely, vice-president for research, innovation and impact at University College Dublin and chair of the Irish Research Council:
• Top Role Model 2014: Creative – Andrea Magnorsky, BatCat Games/GameCraft. Magnorsky is a games developer, event organiser and co-founder of BatCat Games, in an industry with few women. She also co-founded Dublin GameCraft with coder and tech event organiser Vicky Twomey-Lee. Magnorsky's award was presented by Bill Liao, co-founder of CoderDojo:
• Top Role Model 2014: Lifetime Achievement – Susan McKenna-Lawlor. 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. 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. Her award was presented by Ruth Freeman, director of Strategy, Communications and Outreach at Science Foundation Ireland:
• Top Role Model 2014: Diversity Champion – Mark Ryan, Accenture. The only man to receive an award on the night, Ryan is country managing director for Accenture in Ireland, and has worked proactively to build an inclusive and diverse workforce. He was presented with his award by Bríd Horan, deputy chief executive of ESB:
• Top Role Model 2014: Entrepreneurship. Three joint awardees were announced under this category: Leonora O'Brien, founder of Pharmapod; Gráinne Barron, founder of Viddyad (in absentia); and Sonya Lennon, co-founder of Frockadvisor. All three are successful tech start-ups. The awards in this category were presented by Darren McAuliffe, co-founder of Silicon Republic:
• Top Role Model 2014: Rising Star. Again, there were joint awardees in this category. Teenagers Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey – who won the BT Young Scientist competition in 2013 – were awarded, as was teenage coder Catrina Carrigan, who has developed a music website that is being used in computing education in the UK. Their awards were presented by Eamonn Sinnott, general manager, Intel Ireland:
• Top Role Model 2014: Connector – Eithne Harley, Accenture. Harley is director of integrated marketing at Accenture and, according to Silicon Republic's Ann O'Dea, who presented her with her award, was commended for her generous work in connecting people throughout Ireland's STEM sectors, and quietly making change happen:
• Top Role Model 2014: Change Maker – Joanne O'Riordan, No Limbs No Limits. Joanne was born without arms and legs because of a rare condition called tetra-amelia syndrome. She caught the world's eye in April 2012, when she articulately addressed an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) delegation for Girls in ICT Day in New York. In her address, she issued a challenge to engineers to build her a robot that would be able to assist her day-to-day, particularly to pick up things she has dropped. A team at Trinity College Dublin's School of Engineering, led by Kevin Kelly, took up the challenge, supported by the ITU, and a prototype robot, Robbie, now exists. Joanne's award was also presented by Silicon Republic's Ann O'Dea and, following the presentation, Joanne delivered an inspiring closing address at the event:
All photos by Conor McCabe Photography
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. Fidelity Investments Ireland kindly sponsored the evening.