Accenture International Women’s Day event 2016
Panellists on-stage at the 2016 Accenture International Women’s Day event. Photo by Connor McKenna

Accenture International Women’s Day event celebrates spectrum of success

8 Mar 2016

Accenture’s International Women’s Day event helped shine a light on the broad spectrum of opportunities in technology and leadership, and the women of all ages and backgrounds who are leading the way.

At one of just three out of 200 Accenture events being streamed live for International Women’s Day, Accenture Ireland MD Alastair Blair gladly welcomed more than 1,200 attendees to the Convention Centre Dublin for what is the company’s annual celebration of women.

In his opening comments, Blair declared that Accenture has put a decade of work into addressing gender balance, noting with emphasis the commitment required from companies and organisations intending to make improvements.

This comes on the back of Accenture research published today (8 March), which found that the Irish workplace is unlikely to become gender equal until 2065. It will indeed take a great deal of effort to expedite this process.

Taking the centenary of the Easter Rising as a starting point, the event celebrated successes in gender equality over the last century, while also providing modern-day context illustrating what more can and must be done.

Keynote speaker Prof Louise Richardson – the first Irish and female vice-chancellor of Oxford University – issued a rallying call at the end of a rousing speech that our daughters will not have to be the ‘first female’ anything.

“This event brings together some of the leading Irish women from many walks of life to share their stories and perspectives across a variety of topics,” said Accenture MD and head of inclusion and diversity Michelle Cullen – and variety there was, in spades.

Following the theatrical opener depicting women of the Irish Citizen Army in 1916, we were treated to comment and discussion from an inspiring mix of legends, trailblazers and next-generation creators, including: LinkedIn Ireland head Sharon McCooey; National Maternity Hospital master Dr Rhona Mahony; academic and writer Sinéad Burke, and 2015 EU Digital Girl of the Year Niamh Scanlon.

Asking these women to share their journeys, it was clear that there are many roads that lead to prominence, and many ways to work in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Monaghan’s McCooey had already enjoyed a lengthy career before she found her true passion in the technology industry. Multi-talented multi-tasker Burke balances PhD studies in education with running her own successful blog, Minnie Mélange, while also finding time for activism on diversity and inclusion.

Accenture’s own Hilary O’Meara put a passion for maths and a computer science degree to work at the intersection of IT and financial services, while Louise Glennon has worked her way up from making tea during the economic crash to now leading the National Women’s Council of Ireland’s Women in Leadership programme.

Proving the promise of the next generation, teen entrepreneur Catrina Carrigan shared how she grew from a CoderDojo attendee to mentor, just like the multi-award-winning Scanlon. Both of these young women were grateful to the Outbox Incubator programme for offering them guidance on the path to entrepreneurship, and co-founder Mary Carty continues to encourage young people to build their own STEM businesses through Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway.

Carty, Scanlon and Burke will all be seen onstage again in Dublin at Inspirefest this summer, along with Accenture’s chief human resources officer, Ellyn Shook, who is among those listed in Silicon Republic’s Women Invent 100.

Women Invent 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 Intel, Open Eir (formerly Eircom Wholesale), Fidelity Investments, Accenture and CoderDojo.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Join us again from 30 June to 2 July 2016 for fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. Get your Early Bird tickets now.

Elaine Burke
By Elaine Burke

Elaine Burke was editor of Silicon Republic until 2023, and is now the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. Elaine joined Silicon Republic in 2011 as a journalist covering gadgets, new media and tech jobs. She later served as managing editor before stepping up as editor in 2019. She comes from a background in publishing and is known for being particularly pernickety when it comes to spelling and grammar – earning her the nickname, Critical Red Pen.

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