WITSWORDS September  2017
September 2017

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Website Update

Check out the latest WITS news and member profiles here.

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Getting on Boards WITS Member's Event 20 September 2017
Mary Carroll WITS Chair, panellists Deirdre Smith, Ena Prosser and Bride Rosney, Marion Palmer event chair WITS Getting on Boards 20 September 2017


WITS Update

Welcome to WITSWORDS September 2017

We have had a busy September. Getting on Boards was our WITS September event and thanks to our panelists and members for a most enjoyable evening. WITS sponsored the pizzas at the launch meeting of the University of Limerick WiSTEM student society, more below. Enjoy this newsletter with the latest WITS news and events for the next few months.

WITS Student Membership 2017/2018
If you are a student or know a full-time STEM student now is the time to renew your free student affiliate membership. Email WITS with your name, course and college using your student email and you can join for the academic year.  

Getting on Boards with Dr Ena Prosser, Bride Rosney and Deirdre Smith
Wednesday September 20th 2017,  WITS Members' event The Alexander Hotel.
Thank you to our excellent panellists Ena Prosser, Deirdre Smith and Bride Rosney. They presented a persuasive argument about getting on boards and gave us great advice on how to do so. All were encouraged to think about boards, why to join, what to do before joining a board and the work entailed in being a board member. Some useful links about board membership:
  • State Boards appointments are advertised through website.
  • The Institute of Directors has useful materials about being a Board member. Their recent report on diversity in the board room is here and the video is here.
  • There is a useful guide to board membership from Boardmatch Ireland

Dates for your diary - upcoming WITS events

Wednesday 18th October 2017 (19:30)
WITS Members outing to the Abbey Theatre production of Josephine K and the Algorithms. WITS tickets are booked out.

Thursday 19 October
If you can't see it, you can't be it!
WITS Early Career event UCD 5.30 pm.

Booking will open shortly for this event for STEM students, undergraduates and postgraduates. Come along to UCD and hear from women working in STEM. There will be pizza!

Tuesday 7th November 2017 Mary Mulvihill lecture 
Dogpatch Labs, CHQ Dublin 1, 6 pm

WITS is honoured that Professor Dervilla Donnelly, eminent scientist, WITS honorary member and winner of the WITS 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award will deliver a lecture entitled The Hidden Reality. The lecture considers the relationships between scientific research and policy. Booking is now open here. The Mary Mulvihill Lecture held annually since 2015 honours the science journalist and WITS founder Mary Mulvihill.

Tuesday 28 November Walking (slowly) towards space,  Dr Niamh Shaw, 
Science Gallery Dublin at 6pm
Niamh is an engineer, scientist and performer and is passionate about awakening people’s curiosity, merging performance and theatre with communication, engineering, science, art, and technology. You can find out more and register for the event here

Other items of interest
The WITS Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place in December 2017. Information will be circulated in November 2017.

WITS Policy Subcommittee:
Thanks to all who responded to the call for members for the subcommittee. The subcommittee Acting Convenor is Marion Palmer and the members are Lara Cutlar and Anne Marie Flaherty from the WITS Executive, Triona O'Connell, Yvonne Kavanagh, Sinead Kelly, Deborah Hayden and Nicaise Ischwime. Thanks to Triiona for convening the subcommittee for this year.

The Equality Division of the Department of Justice and Equality
has invited WITS to contribute to the consultation on the gender pay gap. The Policy Subcommittee has considered the issue in the light of the WITS Action Manifesto and is preparing a submission.

WITS was at:
  • 6 September Getting Women on Board - Harnessing Women's Talent in Companies National Women's Council of Ireland and the Norwegian Embassy, Mansion House Dublin.
  • 13 September WiSTEM2D J&J Scholarships Launch at the University of Limerick.
  • 19 September UCD AI and the Future lecture by Professor Margaret Boden, OBE FBA Research Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Sussex.
  • 26 September Royal Irish Academy Fixing the leaky pipeline and retaining our talent. This RIA workshop explored the retention and progression of early career women engineers and computer scientists and the Academy will issue a report shortly.


Women in STEM society WiSTEM2D University of Limerick Launch 20 September
Congratulations to Jessica Silva and Siobhan Phelan UL students on setting up the WiSTEM2D society and hosting their first event at the University of Limerick on September 20th.  Over 55 attendees were present at the launch. The event was opened by Prof. Edmon Magner, Ita Richardson (WITS member) then shared experiences of her career in STEM. Tríona O'Connell (WITS member) presented information about WITS and the free membership for students. The launch finished with a pizza party where attendees heard the inspirational words and information about the scholarships and awards from Johnson and Johnson (J&J) with their WiSTEM2D program from Liz Dooley.

WiSTEM2D society Co-Founders Siobhán Phelan and Jessica Silva, hosts of the launch. 

WiSTEM2D J&J Scholarships University of Limerick
On September 13th, WITS hosted a stand in the launch of the 2nd year of the WiSTEM2D Program of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) at the University of Limerick (UL).  Six UL students were awarded scholarships and paired with mentors from J&J. The speakers of the event were Marguerite O'Sullivan (Innovation Engineering Manager at DePuy Synthes Orthopaedics), Des Fitzgerald (UL President), Mary Mitchell O'Connor (Minister of State for Higher Education), Diane Hassett (Engineering Manager, J&J Vision Care) and Mark Benson (Vice President Supply Chain, Consumer Medical Devices, J&J). All speakers emphasised the need for participation of women in STEM and the link between Manufacturing and Design companies. The leaky pipeline was constantly mentioned by the speakers, referring how women drop out of STEM careers and the gap in top-levels.

Women ReBOOT
Well done Software Skillnet on the successful pilot programme for women to return to an ICT career after a career break. Congratulations to all who took part including companies such as MongoDB a WITS corporate member. The programme is running again and there are Software Skillnet – Women ReBOOT information evenings in Cork on 3 October and in Dublin on 5 October. Register for the information evenings here.

Royal Irish Academy Engineering and Computing Lecture Series - Speaker Competition.
The Academy is seeking a speaker for the Engineering and Computing Lecture Series. The competition for the 2018 speaker is supported by the Academy and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Apply here. It would be great to have a woman giving the lectures.

Mary Mulvihill Award 2018
The Mary Mulvihill Award is a science media competition for third level students. It will be launched in early October with a €2000 award for best work on the theme: Science – whose facts? Whose truth? Watch out for more information and start your submission now for 30 March 2018. Queries to Administration at and @Remembering Mary.

Science Communications - new book out
Little Country, Big Talk: science communication in Ireland is a new book from the science communication team at Dublin City University. There is a chapter on Mary Mulvihill WITS founder by Cormac Sheridan called 'The stories that she told' and Maria Delaney WITS member has a chapter on science blogging. The book is available from booksellers and online. It's a good read.

Web summit
Good to see the women in tech mentor programme at the 2017 web summit in Lisbon from 6-9 November. If you are attending the web summit let us know how it goes, as they say 'female participation in the tech sector has been and continues to be a significant issue'. 

Cavan Monaghan Science Festival
We have a request for a speaker on women in science for secondary school students for the second year of the new Cavan Monaghan Science Festival which runs from 11th – 19th November. The library service is promoting Women in Science and if you can help please email WITS for further details.

Dates for your diary
  • 3 October Women ReBOOT Information evening Cork Book your place here.
  • 5 October Women ReBOOT Information evening Dublin  Book your place here.
  • 4-10 October Space Week 2017. Explore the events around the country.
  • 4-7 October 2017 UXDX2017 take place in the RDS Dublin.
  • 7 October 2017 404 Tech event Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Have a look at the speakers here. There is a 10% discount for WITS members, the code is WITS-IRE. Email for tickets.
  • 14-22 October 2017 Maths Week around the country. Find out more here.
  • 23 October Stemettes Monster Confidence event for school and third level STEM students, book tickets here.
  • 26 October Health Research Board Ones 2 Watch conference and competition result. This event is for HRB-funded early career stage researchers at MSc, PhD, and Post Doc levels.
  • 12-19 November Science Week  2017 nationwide.
  • 18 November UCD Diversity in STEM in Third Level in Ireland and Northern Ireland Sibeal workshop. 
Advance notice
Don't forget to explore Engineers Week 2018 website and get involved.

Professor Ita Richardson’s Gender equality advisor to UL President Des Fitzgerald and WITS member Challenge to all young women at the UL WiSTEM2D society launch.

Gender News

Her Excellency Else Berit Eikeland Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland, Shauna O'Boyle, Mary Carroll WITS Chair and Anne O'Leary CEO Vodaphone at the Getting Women on Board - Harnessing Women's Talent in Companies National Women's Council of Ireland and the Norwegian Embassy, Mansion House Dublin 6 September 2017.

Gender Pay Strategy Consultation
The government has launched a gender pay strategy consultation. It it being run by the Equality Division of the Department of Justice and Equality. More information here. The consultation closes on 4 October.

EIGE Gender Equality Index 2017 11 October
The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) will be announcing the 2017 Gender Equality Index on 11 October next. You'll find the current 2015 Gender Equality Index here.

European Commission launches the 2018 edition of the Women Innovators Prize
The European Commission has launched the fifth EU Prize for Women Innovators to award women entrepreneurs who have achieved outstanding innovations and brought them to market. The first prize is €100 000, with second and third prizes of €50 000 and €30 000 respectively with a special prize of €20 000 for an exceptional innovator at the beginning of her career. There is an application guide, video and links to previous winners 2016 included Sarah Bourke of Skytek Ltd. The closing date is 15 November. Who would we like to win from Ireland this year? Dr
Nora Khalid of Nuritas, Dr Ciara Clancy of Beats Medical?

Sibeal Feminist and Gender Studies network
The results of Sibeal's major survey on STEM in third level  and diversity will be reported at the Diversity in STEM in Third Level in Ireland and Northern Ireland workshop on Saturday, November 18th 2017  as part of the annual Sibeal conference. We'll have further details in the October WITSWORDS.

News and Items of Interest

Members' News

Planet Zebunar
Congratulations to WITS member Norah Patten on the forthcoming launch of Planet Zebunar, we're looking forward to it and how it will support 7-11 year olds learn about science. Read about Norah and her work here.

PhD survey: So how was (is) your PhD?
Thank you from Niamh Shaw, Marion Palmer and Jane Grimson for taking part in our PhD survey. There were 80 respondents and the initial results were presented at the Royal Irish Academy's seminar Fixing the leaky pipeline and retaining our talent on 26 September. Here some of the initial results:
  • About 70% completed the PhD, 66% of women and 88% of men.
  • Most respondents (60%) said the PhD was a positive experience and 52% felt that completing the PhD was a valuable experience.
  • A key issue was the student's relationship with their supervisor.
We are still exploring the results and will report on them as soon as w have a firmer picture. For more about a PhD read here.
Member Profiles
Do explore the member profiles on the WITS website and thanks to all who have sent us profiles. If you would like to be featured please send a brief profile with an image to for the website.

We welcome news from members. If you have events, initiatives or just something you think may be of interest to WITS members please email WITS before 21 October 2017 and we'll include it in the next newsletter.
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