Illustration of five women standing with their hands on their hips looking to the right, representing women in STEM.
Image: © Mary Long/

A week of women in STEM – and why that’s not enough

12 Mar 2021

On the back of International Women’s Day, we heard from a variety of women about their careers in STEM.

This week began with International Women’s Day and while recognising the women around us shouldn’t be limited to one day or one week a year, we enjoyed hearing from some diverse voices.

Something we’re passionate about at Silicon Republic is breaking down stereotypes when it comes to the people working in STEM. It can be refreshing and impactful to see their personalities and what they like to do alongside their careers, for example.

That’s something Helene Dingreville, EY’s head of decision sciences and operational research, advocates for. She spoke to us about the importance of showcasing women who have fulfilling careers in technology. Having both a successful career and a family was important to Dingreville, and maintaining both is something she’s proud of today.

But it’s crucial we remind ourselves that now is by no means the optimal time to strive for perfection in all areas of life. As Mastercard’s Tansy Murray told us, it’s not realistic to try to be an excellent parent, partner and colleague during a pandemic.

“Take it easy on yourself,” she said. “During a pandemic, it’s impossible to be a stellar parent, partner and colleague. It’s tough for everyone. It’s tough for people with kids. It’s tough for people living on their own or in relationships. This pandemic is taking its toll on people’s mental health. Let’s silence the inner critic and give ourselves a break.”

We also learned about one woman’s experience of working in STEM after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Stacey Wasserman, chief commercial officer at Genuity Science, told us about her experiences of having stage-three melanoma and why she was inspired to pursue a career in a genomics company.

In our chat with Dingreville, the topic of single-sex schools came up. She said that many all-girls schools don’t have same variety of STEM subject options as those that cater to boys or mixed groups, and this is a barrier to pushing the needle for women in tech.

The experiences of Mary Daly, a finance director at Johnson & Johnson, are a great example of Dingreville’s point. She told us that attending a convent school in the west of Ireland in the ’80s didn’t offer much in the way of career guidance.

“I was given the option of a career in teaching or nursing,” she said. “I told them I wanted to be a vet!”

There are many great women doing many great things in STEM, but we must continue to give them a platform all year around to make the industry a more welcome place for all.

Five women at Aon shared with us their pledges for the #ChooseToChallenge campaign, which was the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day and is something that we all – men and women alike – must consistently commit to.

And finally, Accenture unveiled five portraits of pioneering women in STEM this week that have been commissioned to hang in Dublin City University.

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Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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