WITSWORDS 14 June 2021
June 2021

In This Issue

  • WITS update
  • Members' news
  • STEM News
  • Gender news
  • Dates for your diary - Events

Website Update

Check out the latest WITS news and member profiles here.

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WITS @ Diversity Charter Signing 27 May 2021
WITS was at the signing of the Diversity Charter on 27 May 2021 with leading companies from across Ireland and Minister Simon Harris as part of European Diversity Month 2021.  WITS Dr Andrea C Johnson chaired a diversity and inclusion action panel on Women Returners. The speakers were Kathryn Cullen of Digital Skillnet Ireland, Ciara Garvan of Work Juggle and Jean O'Donnell of AIB and a member of the WITS Executive. The panel's focus was on women returners and their role in improving diversity in STEM.

WITS Update

Welcome to WITSWORDS June 2021

WITS has had a busy May and June with events, meetings, submissions and the sub committees are working away.  The Executive did a 6 month review of the 2021-2025 Strategy at its meeting on 2 June.

The Events Sub Committee reported on the success of the Women in Leadership series of 7 panel talks from 24 February to 21 April 2021. The closing session was postponed and will be rescheduled later in the year. The WITS Student Series began on the 11 March and will continue in September. Watch out for them. WITS Reads continued this year and 4 books have been read and discussed so far. Since the Executive meeting there was a most enjoyable virtual coffee morning on 10 June and one is planned for Thursday 24 June, see below to book.

The Research Sub Committee has expanded its membership, thanks to all who have joined the subcommittee. It is led by Dr Jennifer Keenahan and is preparing a research proposal for submission to the Minster of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris.

The Policy Sub Committee led by the Chair Dr Andrea C Johnson has had a busy 6 months. There was a  Strategic Plan Submission to the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) in December 2020.  A briefing paper and plan was prepared for a meeting with Minster Harris on 9 March. At the meeting a proposal for an expert panel was presented to DFHERIS.  The EU Diversity Charter was signed by WITS on 27 May 2021 and a submission to the consultation on the Digital Strategy for School was submitted in May 2021. Work is ongoing on an expert think in being planned for 30 June.

The other three Sub Committees are working away. The Collaboration and Partnership Committee led by Vice-Chair Rebecca O'Neill is working to recruit and support corporate members, with a particular focus on linking our corporate members and our student members. Led by our Secretary Jan Comish the Admin Sub Committee is ensuring that the work of running WITS goes on, that invitations and emails are managed and the this newsletter is issued regularly. Finally the Communications Sub-committee led by Jean O'Donnell is working on updating the website and managing WITS social media.

Thank you for reading WITSWORDS. Our next issue will be in July 2021 and then we'll take a break for August and WITSWORDS will be out in early September. If you have events, initiatives or just something you think may be of interest to WITS members please email WITS before 9 July 2021 and we'll include it in the next issue. 
Dates for your diary - upcoming WITS events

WITS Reads
The next WITS Reads is on Tuesday 22 June 2021 @ 8 pm. Kindred by Octavia E Butler is being discussed. Email to take part.

WITS Virtual Coffee Morning 8.30 am Thursday 24 June 2021
Join WITS members for a chat and catch up from 8.30 - 9 am on Thursday 24 June. Book here

Higher Education Bill 2021
WITS has been invited to make a submission to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science as part of the Committee’s Pre-legislative Scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Higher Education Authority Bill, 2021. A small group is working on this submission which is due on 21 June 2021. If any member has comments on the bill please send them asap to

Other work of interest includes the international Gender Scan survey. Please take a few minutes to complete the Gender Scan 2021 online survey. using WITS as your organisation in the dropdown menu. WITS is delighted to support it and WITS Chair Dr Andrea C Johnson is a signatory. 
Members' News

Thank you for members' news. Send anything you'd like to share with WITS members to and we'll feature it here.

WITS member Mary O'Callaghan Cork
We are sad to announce that WITS member Mary O'Callaghan of Cork passed away on 4 May 2021.

Mary was a member of WITS for many years and renewed her membership this March. 

Mary was one of our quiet stalwart members who supports WITS and provides its backbone and we appreciated that very much. Our sympathy to her daughter Maria and son Michael. Thank you Maria for the lovely photograph.

ESO European Southern Observatory - meet the PhD students. Good reading. Good to see WITS member Jessca Erkal UCD PhD student contributing.

STEM Passport for Inclusion Maynooth University. This new STEM Passport will support 1000 young working class women to see STEM as a future career. WITS member Dr Katriona O’Sullivan is leading the project with collaborators from across Ireland. Congratulation Katriona and best wishes for the passport.


Science and Tech News

Covid-19 audio documentary wins 2021 Mary Mulvihill Award. 
DCU student Eoin Murphy is the 2021 winner of the €2,000 Mary Mulvihill Award for his audio documentary on Covid-19 inequities, comparing experiences in Peru and Ireland. The Highly Commended award went to TCD student Matthew Thomas for an essay drawing lessons from the AIDS epidemic. Congratulations to Eoin and Matthew and to all who entered the competition. The award will be presented virtually on 16 June 2021.

Gotara is a new global career advice and mentoring network for women. It is free to join and as a member you can network with other STEM women around the world, attend webinars and nano-mentoring. Nano-mentoring is laser-focused confidential career advice exchanges between members and Gotara advisors, who are top STEM leaders. What's unique is that the members and the advisors don't know each other's identities. The members love it because they can be honest & frank without fear anyone will find out what they've said, and the advisors—who are senior women in STEM—can give unbiased advice without having to commit to timely 1:1 relationships. To join, go to:
News from Silicon Republic
STEM Events
Graduate and Student opportunities

STEM Education Update 

  • ReelLIFE Science video competition 2021 is open. ReelLIFE Science is challenging young people to make short video about their favourite science topic.The contest is open to young people across Ireland.  Closing date 15 October 2021.
  • SciFest has announced Fenergo  and Accenture as Gold sponsors for SciFest@College. There will be a Fenergo Communication Award  and an Accenture Maths in Science Award at each of the 16 regional SciFest@College 2021 STEM fairs. Great news.
  • SciFest ezine Volume 12, Issue 4 May 2021  Great reading
  • Maths Week June 2021 newsletter

Gender News

Gender News Women Scientists and Pioneers
  • 26 June 2021 Women in STEM: past, present and future. Free online event from the Robert Boyle Summer School. Speakers include Prof Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE FRS and Michelle di Meo. The first session of the day will be dedicated to the late Mary Mulvihill, WITS founder anda leading light in Women in STEM in Ireland. More details & booking.
  • 3 July 2021 Soapbox Ireland Dublin. Great topics and speakers including WITS Executive Member Tammy Strickland talking about her brain research. Best wishes to all. Please support.
Items of Interest

Dates for your diary - Events to look out for

June 2021 July 2021

Thank you for reading WITSWORDS. Check back for July 2021 WITSWORDS and in the meantime, please send us any news.

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