Women in STEM Media Planet 2018: Top Ten Tips for Employers

Women in STEM Media Planet June 2018

Top Ten Tips for Employers


Ireland has a vibrant tech and innovation sector but growth is often constrained by availability of skilled workers. All the more reason to make the most of those we have, but while women are less likely to study STEM subjects they are also much more likely than men to drop out of STEM careers. Hardly surprising when the discredited notions like “men are innately better at maths” persist when you just want to get on with your job. So how can you as an employer change this in your organization? Reading Accenture’s  When She Rises We All Rise 2018 Getting to Equal Research is a good place to start, but here are some tips to help. Good luck!


  1. Audit your organisation to see if what you think is going on is what’s really going on
    1. board representation of women
    2. role models inside the organisation
    3. gender balance at various grades
    4. the gender pay gap
    5. retention of women in technical roles
    6. perceived discrimination – how does it feel to the women who work there?
  2. Set targets for improvement with board level accountability and share them outside the organisation
  3. Monitor your organisation regularly to see if targets are being met, and if not, why not.
  4. Change how you recruit by
    1. removing gendered language from job ads
    2. advertising with payscales to help close the gender pay gap
    3. removing identifying information from CVs being reviewed
    4. using gender/diversity quotas for candidates called for interview
  1. Make women visible – at meetings, conferences, in publications, on panels, at awards, grants, as sources for journalists, online
  2. Review meetings and how they work. Have clear standing orders, clarify expectations about who attends, why and what people are expected to contribute. Make sure chairs ask all to speak. You don’t want to repeat the famous Punch cartoon “That’s an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.”
  1. Look at work allocation – e.g. do women get all the co-ordinating or teaching roles and men all the research or managerial roles?
  2. Ensure flexible working policies are available to both women and men, and include virtual/remote working as well as flexible working hours.
  3. Use initiatives like bonuses for the initial period of post-maternity leave return to work to improve retention. The cost will be offset by savings on recruiting and training replacements.
  4. Invest in a women’s network which is open to women and men, or join an external network like Women in Technology and Science (WITS)


WITS Vision: A society where women have equal opportunities, experiences and recognition in STEM.

Our Mission: A voluntary, independent organisation advocating, connecting and acting for women to benefit society as full and vital participants in STEM

Our Goal: To grow our profile and membership and collaborate with like-minded organisations to progress our mission of advocating, acting and connecting to have women as full participants in STEM


HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr, glamorous siren of the silver screen, was more than the most beautiful woman in the world. She invented frequency hopping and spread spectrum technology that make the world of wireless communication tick. From Austria to Hollywood, WWII, torpedoes, ecstasy, and intrigue to the very cell phone in your pocket, she was there!

Upcoming Shows

Inspirefest 2018 – Dublin, Ireland – 21-22 June 2018

For further info visit the website



Engineers’ Week 2018

What is Engineers Week?

Engineers Week is a week-long festival of nationwide events celebrating the world of engineering in Ireland. The annual event is coordinated on a national basis by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme -funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover programme Call.


24 February to 2nd March 2018


The aims of the week include:
1. Encourage young people, their teachers and parents to explore the fun world of engineering.
2. Generate interest and enthusiasm for engineering in their everyday lives.
3. Inspire young people to explore engineering career paths.
4. Highlight the diverse opportunities engineering offers.

Who should get involved?

If you are an engineer, STEM professional, science communicator, business, college or local authorities become a role model, highlight your engineering achievements, deliver hands-on engineering activities and demonstrate the role of engineering in your local community.
Schools, families and youth organisations can also get involved in Engineers Week by running their own events.
Anyone can organise an event or activity and the Engineers Ireland STEPS team will empower and support you with your planning.

Who coordinates the week?

The Engineers Ireland’s STEPS team coordinates Engineers Week.

Find out about STEPS here: www.steps.ie
Find out about Engineers Ireland here: www.engineersireland.ie

IT Sligo Engineers Week Event – 1st March 2018

see poster below for details

Open Call to serve on Royal Irish Academy Multidisciplinary Committees

The aims of the Committees are to provide scientific and scholarly expertise and to promote the value of the sciences, humanities and social sciences.

They will work, on an all-island basis, to support and sustain the broad range of disciplines represented by the Committees, and to strengthen the engagement of these communities in national and international scholarship.

The duties of the Committees are to:

  • Address and raise issues, including those of public concern, relevant to its shared expertise
  • Contribute to the public engagement programme of the Academy
  • Improve the Academy’s capacity to engage with the wider scholarly community in Ireland
  • Advise the Academy on the formulation of policy at national, European and international levels
  • Enhance the Academy’s capacity for increasing the engagement of its Members in its activities and affairs
  • Provide support for grant and award review panels
  • Be the national adhering mechanism for relevant international unions where appropriate
  • Undertake other such activities as might be appropriate.

The term of office of these committees will be four years. It is expected that the Committees will meet three or four times per year.

There are 10 Multidisciplinary Committees:

  1. Climate Change and Environmental Sciences
  2. Coiste Léann na Gaeilge, Litríocht na Gaeilge agus na gCultúr Ceilteach
  3. Engineering and Computer Science
  4. Ethical, Political, Legal and Philosophical Studies
  5. Geosciences and Geographical Sciences
  6. Historical Studies
  7. Life and Medical Sciences
  8. Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences
  9. Social Sciences
  10. Languages, Literature, Culture and Communication

To express interest in serving on one of the committees please fill in this short form no later than 17:00 Friday 16 February, 2018. Please send any queries to Karen Ayton at info@ria.ie

For further info visit the website.

International Women’s Day Breakfast

WITS Cork – International Women’s Day 2017
Wednesday 8th March 2017 @ Workbench, Bank of Ireland, Cork

Breda Kenny and Ita O'Sullivan

Breda Kenny and Ita O’Sullivan speaking at the IWD breakfast event

WITS Cork and The WorkBench of Bank of Ireland in Cork celebrated International Women’s Day with a breakfast on March 8, 2017. There were around 10 women and 3 men attendees.

Breda Kenny from CIT presented the importance of being ready for the change. She said that everything is changing and we need to prepare ourselves to keep us in business. She provided data relating to female entrepreneurs and self-employed. Breda stated that women do not consider themselves as entrepreneurs. She remarked on the importance of gender proofing images and messages to the younger generations. She suggested that women should not wait for female-only programs to become entrepreneurs. Breda suggested to women to use all the available help that they already have. She closed the presentation mentioning that we all can have a good idea but we should know how to incorporate the new technologies to be competitive.

Magaly Mora presented about WITS, the book Lab coats and lace and all the membership options. And she presented statistics and data relating to being a woman working in societies with cultural dimensions from GeerfHostede of masculinity (with a very high level) and long term orientation (with a short value). Magaly presented statistics of women in Engineering for Mexico (19%) and Ireland (15%). She presented some examples of the stereotypes and news that you can get from Google if you search for women + engineer + Mexico/Ireland. And shared her experiences regarding stereotypes about taking job opportunities, trainings, maternity leave and being part of women groups since University.

Ita O’Sullivan mentioned the activities in Cork around the International Women Day, and some references to check: Super-woman pose, websites and online training.

The speakers and attendees were invited to share a networking session over tea or coffee, fruits, pastries and biscuits at the beginning and at the end of the event.

Science Communication: Why and How

Science Communication: Why and How
With Dr. Bettie Higgs and Niamh Kavanagh.
Distillery House, UCC, Cork, February 22nd 2017

After a brief description of WITS membership options and activities by WITS Cork co-organiser Margaret Jordan, and an introduction to the topic of science communication by Jane O’Hara (of the 2017 WITS Exec), Bettie Higgs was the first presenter of the evening. She talked about the importance of effective science communication, and presented some examples of how information can be miscommunicated. She invited attendees to think of something they understood really well, which was a very thought-provoking exercise. She probed us about how we know that we understand a particular topic, and to think back to how this understanding developed when we are communicating about topics that we understand in depth but that others do not. Bettie also cited an example of attending an inspirational talk after which she felt that she had increased her own understanding of the subject, due to the effective communication style of the presenter.
Niamh Kavanagh followed up with an a very engaging insight into her own process of becoming a FameLab (science communication competition) winner. She summarised this into nine tips, all of which helped her to become an effective and successful science communicator. For example, she spoke about the importance of being honest and human with your public, as well as practicing your presentations a lot, and getting honest feedback about them. Niamh’s main three points of advice were to keep the message clear, relatable and memorable.
Magaly Mora, WITS Cork co-organiser, closed the event with a thank you to the wonderful speakers. We hope that many of the attendees learned a lot more about the reasons and practicalities of communicating science to different audiences.
For upcoming events in Cork and elsewhere, please see http://witsireland.com/events

About the speakers:
Dr. Bettie Higgs is a geologist who recently retired as Senior Lecturer at University College Cork and Co-Director and Academic Coordinator of Support for Teaching and Learning. She continues to be active in science communication.
Niamh Kavanagh is a Photonics Ph.D. candidate in the Tyndall National Institute, and a 2016 Early Career Physics Communicator Award recipient. She is a SFI Smart Futures volunteer and is involved in many science outreach activities.

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome

with Pauline Sargent, founder of DigiWomen
Dublin Science Gallery, January 17th 2017

This talk on Imposter Syndrome was about that feeling that many of us get when we are faced with a challenge. Even if we know that we have the right skills, qualifications or whatever it should take to complete this task, or take on this new job, sometimes we find ourselves crippled with self-doubt about our capability. Pauline Sargent, who is the founder of Irish company DigiWomen and lecturer in Digital Marketing at Dublin Business School, knows this feeling only too well. Although the term Imposter Syndrome was coined in the 1970s, by two psychologists, Pauline had not come across it until she volunteered to hold a TEDx conference in Drimnagh, Dublin, and found herself feeling that she couldn’t handle it. All manner of things went wrong and eventually the conference had to be cancelled. One positive thing was that, after doing some research, Pauline realised that she was not the only one suffering from this feeling of being undeserving or too inexperienced to succeed. Hence, she came up with this presentation to share her findings with others and to help women in particular to overcome Imposter Syndrome when it threatens to strike.

After establishing from a show of hands that almost everyone in the room had experienced this phenomenon at one time or another, Pauline got the audience started with a hands-on exercise. In small groups, we each thought of a challenge that we had coming up, and shared our feelings and any doubts that we had about facing it. Some of the stories were shared among the wider audience then. Some examples were of fear of speaking at client meetings, of feeling that you didn’t know everything at work, of not being good enough to get a new desired job, and of not ticking every box when applying for jobs.

I think most of us felt better having heard others share their experiences of self-doubt! Pauline explained that especially in the age of social media, it’s easy to feel that everyone else ‘has it together’ and that we are the only one struggling. She showed us some quotes from famous people who experience feelings of being a fraud, from movie stars to writers and sports people. It seems that Imposter Syndrome can be felt by almost anyone, even those who appear to be at the top of their field.

Some of the advice given during the presentation for dealing with Imposter Syndrome was not to worry about aiming for absolute perfection, as ‘done is better than perfect’; to be an ordinary hard-worker, as opposed to a super-star, but to be consistent; to focus on day-to-day tasks instead of always looking to the end goal.

Next, we were given our second exercise designed to get us to tackle our own Imposter Syndrome tendencies: in our small groups again, we had to pick a challenge that we want to get done in the next 3-6 months, and plan out the steps that we would need to complete in order for that to happen. This was really useful, as it made the ideas and advice more concrete, and invited each of us to face our self-doubts and knock them away using practical steps chosen by us.

Further advice from Pauline was to make sure to lean on people around you, and not just anyone, but the right people, those who will support you in your goals. This is exactly what WITS is there for, and other professional organisations could also be useful, depending on your particular challenge. She also warned us not to compare ourselves to anyone, as it is not helpful and you never really know what is happening below the surface of what someone else chooses to project out into the world. Her final advice before this event concluded was to be realistic about what you can do, take stock of your skills and talents and be honest about them. This will help you to feel confident about taking on the right task, while not falling into the trap of doing too much and saying yes to absolutely everything.

We hope that everyone got something out of this event, and that it has helped some of those facing exciting/daunting challenges to be tackled in 2017. Look out for our future events at witsireland.com.

By Jane O’Hara

WITS at Dublin Tech Summit


Tech Summit Blog

My Tech summit journey started with an email from Dr Marion Palmer informing me I had won tickets or the Dublin Tech Summit. I attended for a half day on 15th February and 16th February. As I entered the Convention Centre the main focal point was the Robothespian, called George. The life sized humanoid robot designed for Human interaction was fully interactive, multilingual and user friendly.

I was quite overwhelmed by the experience and how vast and overwhelming the venue was, 5 floors of speakers from across Start-ups and the Corporate world. There was a full 2 day schedule of speakers that spoke for 10/15 minutes and then there was always an interactive and “lively” session.

Day 1

I went to Gary Vaynerchuk’s talk #GaryVee whose talk was both motivational and inspirational and had 2000 attendees. Gary started out working with his Dad in a liquor store in the US and then set up a wine Business online, even though a lot of people told him an online wine Business would never succeed. He contributes his success to being authentic, honest and getting good advice from other people. One of his quotes “It’s not about how much I make, I’m an extremely happy guy “. Gary also alluded to the concept of “Clouds and Dirt “and from myself coming from a Corporate World, there needs to be a balance in achieving your Business Goal and Strategy – Executives can sometime be in the Cloud and removed from Reality but can have a lot of influence and contribute to the Company’s Strategy. But at the “Dirt” level, the people that do the work need to try and engage with the Cloud in order to drive success in Business. He said “I didn’t get here by accident. I did my work. I commit”.

There was also a discussion re: Social Media and the best way to communicate – Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook – each which brings its own unique-ness. Gary’s opinion was that Twitter is the only pure plate social network let – other platforms are pushing their features. If you would like to see Gary Vee’s interview at the Tech Summit You Tube videos.

Day 2 
I attended a few sessions on the second day.

  • Creating a Real Customer Experience @PiaBenton, moderated by Neil Leydon, RTE. As part of Customer Experience and HCI (Human computer interaction) feedback and listening is important. As UI and UX Designers, it is important to Prototype, use the right process, look at Data Visualisation, engagement with the Customer and ensure good Design Principles. It is important to work in teams for Collaborating and also need to ensure relevance for the Older audience as well.
  • BlockChain Technology – #BrucePon #BigChainDB
    BlockChain is where Payments within Banking meets Technology. Blockchain is currently being piloted by Royal Bank of Scotland. The big issue with BlockChain is the element of Trust. You also need to ensure you have the correct 1) Platforms 2) Processing and 3) Storage. There will always be a challenge in the Banking Industry as the Banks are highly regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland and there may be security and compliance issues.
    Emer O'Brien and Marion Palmer at Dublin Tech Summit

To summarise, I loved the opportunity to experience the Tech Summit

From the Startups and the different mix of people at the event, from students to entrepreneurs to The Corporate World where companies like Accenture, RTE and Royal Bank of Scotland were in attendance. Being at the cutting edge of Technology is important and the way the “digital” world is going both for Start-Ups and the Corporate world definitely gave me a very good insight into how Technology can change a person’s life and grow your Business.

Thanks again to WITS Ireland for the tickets.

Emer O’ Brien, @emerobr
Bio: I am a Senior application Developer with 16 years’ experience working in Zurich Insurance, Blackrock doing developments in various programming languages and working with Database Technologies supporting our Business community. Our IT and Operations department is going through a transformation, which should lead Zurich Ireland into a leading insurance company on the market both from a Service and Technology perspective.

Women Write Better Code!

Computer code written by women has a higher approval rating than that written by men – but only if their gender is not identifiable, new unpublished research suggests. The US researchers analysed nearly 1.4 million users of the open source program-sharing service Github. They found that pull requests – or suggested code changes – made on the service by women were more likely to be accepted than those by men. The researchers, from the computer science departments at Caly Poly and North Carolina State University, looked at around four million people who logged on to Github on a single day – 1 April 2015.