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

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

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.

Startups 101 for Students

Startups 101 for Students” organised by Frontline Ventures in partnership with Dublin Startup Commissioner’s Office is a non-commercial event for Irish university students looking to get into the startup ecosystem.

When: Wed March 2nd (5-7PM)
Where: Dogpatch Labs, The CHQ Building, Custom House Square, Dublin

The event is FREE and tickets are available via

Stories In Sound – Jocelyn And The Radio Star, Sunday 7 February, BBC Radio Ulster, 12.30pm

Stories In Sound – Jocelyn And The Radio Star
Sunday 7 February
BBC Radio Ulster, 12.30pm

Marie-Louise Muir meets Lurgan-born scientist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, famous both for making one of the most significant astronomical discoveries of the 20th century and for the Nobel Prize controversy that ensued.

In Stories In Sound – Jocelyn And The Radio Star, on BBC Radio Ulster on Sunday 7 February at 12.30pm, they discuss sexism in the Sixties, inspiring young women today and the search for meaning in the universe.

For further information: