The Community Builders: 13 women helping women in STEM
Image: MJgraphics/Shutterstock

The Community Builders: 13 women helping women in STEM

7 Mar 2018

These are the people building communities supportive of women in STEM, giving them welcoming spaces in which to connect, grow and thrive.

Any women in STEM would be lucky to happen upon any of these 13 legends. These community builders are generating the people power for advocacy and advancement for women and other minorities in STEM.

Sheree Atcheson

Sheree Atcheson | Sci-Tech 100

Sheree Atcheson. Image:@nirushika/Twitter

Realising how few women were recognised in the UK tech industry led Sheree Atcheson to launch the UK wing of Women Who Code in Belfast, where she is currently expansion director. As well as being a major advocate for women in STEM, she is also passionate about providing a voice to global role models, as seen in her work with I Am Lanka.

Before her return to the Inspirefest stage this summer, she will be heading to San Francisco in April to attend Women Who Code Connect 2018, a technical and developer conference featuring a raft of inspirational women speakers.

Elva Carri, Áine Mulloy and Pamela Newenham


From left: Elva Carri, Pamela Newenham and Áine Mulloy of GirlCrew. Image: GirlCrew

GirlCrew is so much more than just your average social network. Co-founders Elva Carri, Pamela Newenham and Áine Mulloy have built an extensive community of women all over the world, stemming from a single Tinder hack set-up in Dublin several years ago.

Now, with an app spanning the globe and numerous social and professional gatherings, GirlCrew has blossomed into something very special. From support and career advice to travel tips, the co-founders have fostered friendships, creativity and innovation across the world.

Fabian Dattner and Jess Melbourne Thomas


From left: Jess Melbourne Thomas and Fabian Dattner. Image: Living Loving Hobart

Fabian Dattner and Jess Melbourne Thomas are the founders of Homeward Bound, a “groundbreaking leadership, strategic and science initiative for women, set against the backdrop of Antarctica”. Dattner is a leadership activist, women’s advocate and partner at Dattner Grant, while Melbourne Thomas is an Antarctic marine ecosystem modeller, a research scientist with the Australian Antarctic Division and a project leader with the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre.

In late 2016, the Homeward Bound programme undertook the largest all-female expedition to Antarctica to raise awareness of the vital contributions made by women in the field of science. The second cohort of Homeward Bound set sail on 19 February aboard the Ushuaia ship, carrying 78 STEMM women to the Antarctic Peninsula.

Niamh Kavanagh

Niamh Kavanagh. Image: Twitter

While Niamh Kavanagh is currently a photonics PhD candidate, she is also an award-winning science communicator. She is passionate about outreach and public engagement when it comes to science.

Kavanagh is also an incredibly passionate supporter and advocate for diversity, inclusion and equality in STEM. Along with other LGBTQ scientists, she has set up House of STEM, a new community-led network to improve LGBTQ support, visibility and representation in Irish STEM.

She recently spoke about the importance of inclusion in the workplace at the launch of the LGBT+ Physical Sciences Climate Survey.

Tracy Keogh

Women Invent 100 2018

Tracy Keogh, innovation community manager, Bank of Ireland Startlab Galway. Image: Bank of Ireland

Tracy Keogh is lighting up the start-up community in the west of Ireland with her enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and enterprise. As innovation community manager at Bank of Ireland’s Startlab in Galway, Keogh has expanded her remit to include encouraging start-ups in surrounding counties, including Sligo, Leitrim and Mayo.

Keogh is passionate about inclusion and diversity, and has blogged on the subject along with her observations on start-up life. An enthusiastic Startup Weekend supporter, she travels all over the world to lead events and has even brought one to Achill Island, which will take place in April.

Victoria McCallum

Victoria McCallum

Victoria McCallum. Image: Twitter

Victoria McCallum is a prolific community builder in the Northern Irish STEM scene as regional leader for the Belfast Lean In Circle, founder of Women In Tech Belfast and former ambassador for Code First Girls at Queen’s University Belfast, among several other projects.

‘If you imagine how incredibly successful the tech industry is now, imagine how much better it could be if those numbers met or surpassed the magical tipping point’

With McCallum at the forefront, Women In Tech Belfast is growing rapidly and provides a space for female professionals in the field to build networks, generate ideas and – crucially – provide support and advice to one another.

Farzana Nasser

Farzana Nasser. Image: Women in Wireless

Farzana Nasser is the co-president of Women in Wireless, a community that champions women in leadership in the mobile, digital and tech industries. Since its inception, it has grown into a 12,000-strong community with partnerships with every major mobile and tech conference in the world.

One of the first things that Nasser put into motion when she joined Women in Wireless was the curation of female founder panels, and companies such as T-Mobile, Microsoft and Facebook have sponsored their efforts to champion women.

Zoë Quinn

Zoë Quinn.

Game designer and CEO of Crash Override. Zoë Quinn. Image: Zoë Quinn

A talented game developer who turned horrifying online abuse stemming from 2014’s Gamergate scandal into a movement for greater protections, Zoë Quinn is striving to make real change – and get accountability from platforms.

‘We need to start evaluating platforms based on the experiences of their least privileged users’

Since the traumatising events, Quinn has launched Crash Override Network, an organisation dedicated to helping those who have been victims of online abuse, as well as offering safety tips and campaigning for a rethink of platform policies around abuse reporting and terms of service rules.

Vicky Twomey-Lee

Vicky Twomey Lee

Vicky Twomey-Lee. Image: Luke Maxwell

Self-professed ‘Pythonista’ Vicky Twomey-Lee is an incredibly strong advocate and role model for women in tech and coding. Having co-founded Coding Grace (the name an homage to Grace Hopper), which provides female-friendly workshops and events, as well as founding PyLadies Dublin, Twomey-Lee is responsible for many meet-ups centred on coding.

Twomey-Lee’s focus isn’t just on women in tech, but on the importance of diversity within the sector, and every effort is made to ensure the events she hosts are inclusive and accessible.

Margaret E Ward

Margaret E Ward

Margaret E Ward. Image:

Margaret E Ward is a finance journalist, broadcaster and entrepreneur based in Dublin, as well as the founder of Women on Air. This organisation aims to address the glaring gender disparity in Irish radio by organising events to bring like-minded women together who can support each other and encourage each other to pursue opportunities.

Women on Air keeps a list of women available to speak on air about a variety of subjects, stating that those who submit to a list are obliged to accept speaking opportunities or, if they cannot, have the name of three women on hand who could be suitable replacements.


Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Get your Early bird tickets now to join us in Dublin on 21 and 22 June 2018.

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