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WITS & Women in Mathematics Day Ireland 2018

  • 5 September 2018

Women in mathematics were celebrated at the Women in Mathematics Day 2018 held in UCD on 29 August.

The day was opened by Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor who gave great support to women in STEM and noted the report of the Gender Equality Task Force in Higher Education would be published in September 2018.

The day continued with a celebration of the centenary of the birth of the mathematical physicist Sheila Tinney. Her son Hugh and daughter Ethna told family stories of Sheila. A plaque commemorating Sheila as the first Irish female to receive a PhD in maths was presented to UCD by the National Committee for Commemorative Plaques for Science and Technology.

WITS's sponsored the print of of the Royal Irish Academy portrait of Sheila and I was honoured to present it to the School of Mathematics and Statistics.

It was good to see Minister Mitchell O'Connor stay for the celebration of Dr Sheila Tinney's life and work. Hugh and Ethna Tinney brought Sheila to life and displaying the plaque and print in the School will keep her in the minds of current staff and students.

The range of speakers was excellent. The keynote address was by Professor Sally McClean of Professor of Mathematics at Ulster University on mathematical modelling. Prof Ailish Hannigan of the University of Limerick spoke on her work on participant modelling in health care. Dr Doireann O'Kiely, a UCD graduate and now a postdoc in the University of Oxford spoke on her work in thin films showing how mathematical modelling enables the exploration of practical problems. Dr Sandra Collins, Director of the National Library Ireland spoke about how mathematics has enabled to develop a most interesting career. They all made me think.

There were presentations on the Maths Olympiads, the European Women in Maths network and the SFI Gender Strategy 2016-2020. The balance of mathematics, especially mathematical modelling, maths careers, distinguished women in maths, future mathematicians and policy was lovely. The enjoyment of the Maths Olympiad girls was palpable.

The audience was equally diverse with girls from St Mark's Community School, maths students and lecturers from around the country. WITS was well represented with student member Claire Bergin, past chair Dr Eucharia Meehan, Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies and Rebecca O’Neill, an Executive member who organised the plaque.

WITS sponsored the poster prize and congratulate Hannah Conroy Broderick on her poster. Congratulations to Isabella Gollini and Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabhain co-chairs of the School of Mathematics and Statistics UCD and their committee for a great day.

Article by: Dr Marion Palmer, WITS Executive