women with a stem career
Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

14 role models for women who want a career in STEM

6 Feb 2017

Without a doubt, we need more women in STEM. We know that. Luckily, so do these amazing role models.

We’re all well aware of the gender gap in the STEM industry. Women are under-represented across almost all sectors of STEM, but change is afoot.

While the gap does exist, so do vocal advocates and inspirational role models, fighting for women and encouraging young girls into STEM careers.

To celebrate these role models, we’ve rounded up 14 of them, each of whom we would strongly urge you to follow.

Niamh Scanlon (@niamhscanlonirl)

Niamh Scanlon is the youngest entry on our list, but she has already achieved so much. She was named last year’s EU Digital Girl of the Year, she is a CoderDojo mentor and she has won several awards for her apps.

At 14 years old, she’s already become a huge advocate for women in science and technology.

At last year’s Inspirefest, Scanlon spoke about getting young people, particularly young girls, into coding to create a more diverse tech workforce.

Aoibhinn Ní Shúillebháin (@aoibhinn_ni_s)

A long-time advocate for women in STEM, Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúillebháin is a university lecturer, academic and science communicator.

Currently a lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at University College Dublin, Ní Shúillebháin is an advocate for women in mathematics, highlighting the problems within the STEM industry that create the gender gap.

Ní Shúillebháin is heavily involved in how mathematics is taught, and how the subject can be improved.

Anne-Marie Imafidon (@aimafidon) and Mary Carty (@marycarty)

Founders of the Outbox Incubator, Anne-Marie Imafidon and Mary Carty have actively supported women in STEM.

Co-founder of the Stemettes, Imafidon was recently awarded an MBE at the start of the year, while Carty announced at Inspirefest 2016 that the Outbox Incubator would be coming to Dublin.

The Outbox Incubator provides seed funding, support and mentorship to talented young women with innovative technology and business ideas.

Tarah Wheeler (@tarah)

Inspirefest 2017 speaker Tarah Wheeler is leading the way for women in cybersecurity.

Wheeler was the lead author of the book Women in Tech, which features interviews and advice for women looking to advance their tech career.

The book also talks about how women are, for the most part, being left out of tech-driven environments, but Wheeler believes the more women that join the field, the more support they will have.

Sylvia Leatham (@SylviaLeatham)

Sylvia Leatham is the coordinator of STEPS at Engineers Ireland, a non-profit programme that promotes STEM careers to primary and second-level students.

STEPS works in strategic partnership with Science Foundation Ireland on Smart Futures, a collaborative government industry education programme highlighting STEM careers to post-primary students in Ireland.

A strong role model for female engineers, Leatham also advocates the importance of good communicators within the STEM sector.

Gillian Keating, Caroline O’Driscoll and Ruth Buckley (@IWish_ie)

These three inspirational women are responsible for the creation of I Wish, which encourages young women to pursue careers in STEM, and informs students and parents about STEM subjects in school.

The I Wish 2017 conference will take place in Cork on 9-10 February and in Dublin on 12-13 February.

I Wish recently held an enterprise competition as part of the 2017 conference, inviting young women to pitch their STEM business ideas.

Prof Brian MacCraith (@muirtheimhne)

While most of our list consists of female role models who encourage young women in the STEM industry, we had to include Dublin City University (DCU) president Prof Brian MacCraith.

MacCraith has been one of the most active advocates for greater representation of women in STEM.

Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com, MacCraith said: “The gender imbalance that we see in STEM jobs and in specific STEM disciplines, like physics and various branches of engineering, is unacceptable for a number of reasons.”

Lesley Tully (@tulster)

Lesley Tully is on the board of directors of Illuminating Herstory, a light projection festival to celebrate women over the weekend of Nollaig na mBan (Women’s Little Christmas).

Tully is the head of design at Bank of Ireland (BOI), and intends to make Illuminating Herstory an annual, global festival, much like the green illuminations that take over the world on St Patrick’s Day.

Within BOI, Tully is an inspiring female role model for fintech, supporting start-ups in Ireland.

Vicky Twomey-Lee (@whykay)

A self-professed Pythonista, Vicky Twomey-Lee is a coder and advocate for diversity in the tech industry.

Twomey-Lee co-founded Coding Grace, an homage to Grace Hopper that provides female-friendly workshops and events.

Coding Grace has teamed up with Kats Conf to host an Allyship workshop on 17 February on the importance of allies and curbing unconscious bias in the workplace.

Catherine Connolly and Grace McDermott (@WomenAreBoring)

DCU PhD students Catherine Connolly and Grace McDermott have created a blog for women to write about their research in an accessible way and tackle the issues they face.

Women Are Boring was born to create more visibility for women in the STEM industry, and the eye-catching name has certainly garnered attention.

In less than a year, their Twitter followers have surpassed 4,000 and the women were recently featured in Irish Country Magazine.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Book now to get Early Bird tickets.

Looking for jobs in tech or science? Check out our Employer Profiles for information on companies hiring right now and sign up for our Career Republic e-zine for a weekly digest of sci-tech careers news and advice.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading