WITSWORDS August  2017
August 2017

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Website Update

Check out the latest WITS news and member profiles here.

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Inspirefest 2017  Lara Cutlar WITS Executive, Amber Higgins, Emma Murphy WITS Student members, Niamh Shaw Inspirefest 2017 speaker and WITS member, Marion Palmer WITS Executive

WITS Update

Welcome to WITSWORDS August 2017

Hope that you have enjoyed the summer. Enjoy this newsletter with news and events for the next few months.

Dates for your diary - upcoming WITS events

Wednesday September 20th 2017 - Getting on Boards with  Dr Ena Prosser, Bride Rosney and Deirdre Smith.  This panel event and members' workshop will focus on why you should join a Board and the types of Boards and organisations. It is booked out, places on the waiting list can be booked via our website. Venue is Alexander Hotel, Dublin 2.

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.

Walking (slowly) towards space - a talk by Dr Niamh Shaw  Date to be confirmed.
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 via our website. Details will be confirmed shortly.

Tuesday 7th November 2017 Mary Mulvihill lecture
The 2017 Mary Mulvihill lecture will be given by Professor Dervilla Donnelly. Professor Donnelly was recently awarded the Cunningham Medal by the Royal Irish Academy and is a WITS honorary member. Booking will open shortly.

Other items of interest

WITS Events:
The WITS AGM will take place in December 2017. Information about the AGM and any other WITS events will be circulated in due course.

WITS Policy Subcommittee:
Thanks for all who responded to the call for members to the Policy subcommittee, we'll update you further next month. WITS has been invited to contribute to the Department of Justice and Equality Gender Pay Gap consultation and will keep you posted.

WITS was at:
  • Inspirefest 2017 6-7 July with thanks to Ann O'Dea and Inspirefest for our student tickets. Read about it below.
  • Hedy Lamarr at the Galway Fringe Festival. Congratulations to Heather Massie for her amazing one woman show about Hedy Lamarr. Thanks to Catherine Cronin for alerting us to the show.
WITS was delighted to be at Inspirefest again this year with our student members. We enjoyed it so much, find out about the two days here. Thank you Ann O’Dea for dedicating this year's #inspirefest to the memory of Mary Mulvihill, our sorely missed founder and for sponsoring our student members to attend again this year. Here’s what they said. Catalina left ‘Inspirefest with a blissful face and my eyes sparkling thinking of a future where I will stand on that very stage and inspire others with my story.’ For Shauna it reinforced her decision to study engineering. Amber found Inspirefest 2017 such a breath of fresh air, it gave her so many new perspectives on women in technology, science, design and business. Anne Marie won the prize for best beginner at the Wakeboarding – she’s delighted. Emma’s favourite was learning about APOPO and the positive impact their HeroRATS are having in communities, she can’t wait to tell her Zoology professors all about it! For Sageanne Inspirefest 2017 taught her that passion and persistence are the two of the most important ingredients for success, and that it is never too late to start working on your dream. The charity partner for Inspirefest 2017 was Debra Ireland, read about EB and what researchers like Dr Lara Cutlar are doing here. Coding Grace run by Vicky Twomey Lee WITS Vice Chair was part of the Inspirefest Family Fringe on Saturday 8 July. Finally we loved Kate Dempsey’s praise song, read it here.   


Inspirefest 2017 
Anne Marie Flaherty WITS Executive and a student member, Vicky Twomey Lee WITS Vice Chair, Sageanne Senneff WITS Student member, Marion Palmer WITS Executive



Smart Futures public consultation
Smart Futures works to inform students about STEM careers. It has opened a public consultation on the next phase of the programme 2017-2020. Click here to learn more and take part in the consultation before 4 September 2017. There is a position paper and an online survey.

Space Studies Program 2017 Cork Institute of Technology 26 June - 25 August.
Congratulations to all involved for the wonderful International Space University Space Studies Program 2017. It went so well. More here. 

Here are some of the STEM stories from the web this summer.
  • 5 July 2017 Professor Louise Kenny Director of INFANT, the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research is named the Guaranteed Irish Science Hero 2017. Congratulations Louise.  Read about it here.
  • 15 July 2017 Iranian math genius, Fields Medal winner Maryam Mirzakhani passed away. A great loss for Maths.
  • The Farthest film was launched about the Voyager missions. Read about the film here.
  • 26 August 2017 Happy 99th birthday to Katherine Johnson who work was profiled in the film Hidden Figures. More here.
STEM around the web
  • 365 Women in STEM - have a look at this series on Twitter. It started on 8 March 2017 and will continue to next year. Great to see Irish scientists #166 Aoibhinn Ní Shuilleabháin, #144 Eva Philbin and #98 Professor Dervilla Donnelly in the list. 
  • The Female Scientist - have a look at this new website that aims to make female scientists visible to us all. There are portraits of scientists, guides and articles. Irish sport psychologist Dr Olivia Hurley is one of the featured scientists.
  • The Irish Research Council has a new website. It is looking for the Researcher of the Year 2017, more information here. Do watch the video about Irish research.
  • Good reading - Irish Wildlife Trust and Citizen Science blog.

Women in STEM society
Congratulations to UL students on setting up the Women in STEM society this summer. We wish them all the best. We hope to have a WITS pizza party with them during the academic year.

Dates for your diary
  • 6 September Paddy Power Technology Evening more information here
  • 8 September Laurie Winkless How to Build a More Sustainable City Seminar 5 of Women Should Both Seen and Heard, Science Gallery Dublin. Book a place here.
  • 12-14 September 2017 UCD Conway Festival  Register here.
  • 14 September it@cork September WoMen in Tech. Register here
  • 19 September UCD AI and the Future lecture by Professor Margaret Boden, OBE FBA Research Professor of Cognitive Science, University of Sussex. Register here.
  • 26 September Royal Irish Academy Fixing the leaky pipeline and retaining our talent. RIA workshop exploring the retention and progression of early career women engineers and computer scientists.
  • 4-7 October 2017 UXDX2017 take place in the RDS Dublin.
  • 23 October Stemetters 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.
  • 18 November UCD Diversity in STEM in Third Level in Ireland and Northern Ireland Sibeal workshop see Gender News below.
Advance notice
24th February - 2nd March  Engineers Week 2018. Explore the website and get involved.

Gender News

Gender Pay Strategy Consultation
The government has launched a gender pay strategy consultation. It it being run by the Equality Unit of the Department of Justice and Equality. WITS has been invited to make a submission. More information here. The consultation closes in early October.

Women on Boards
What a current topic! Read the Institute of Director's report on board diversity here. There is an information video here.

NWCI National Women's Council of Ireland
WITS is a member of the NWCI. The NWCI is holding an event about getting women on boards and harnessing talent on 6 September 2017,
book your place here.

Sibeal Feminist and Gender Studies network

Sibeal is the network for postgraduate students and early career scholars working in the field of feminist and gender studies across disciplines.They have major a survey on STEM in third level  and diversity here. The survey is open until mid-September. Results will be reported at the Diversity in STEM in Third Level in Ireland and Northern Ireland on Saturday, November 18th 2017 workshop that is part of the annual Sibeal conference.

News and Items of Interest

Members' News

WITS Member awarded NUIG honorary degree
Professor Jane Grimson of TCD was awarded an honorary degree (Doctor of Laws) by NUI Galway on June 9th, 2017 for services to engineering and gender equality in higher education
. Congratulations Jane. 

Photo is courtesy of Trinity News and Events. 

Inspiring Female Engineers
Great piece on STEPS and promoting engineering to young women by WITS member Sylvia Leatham. It is part of the June Women in STEM Media Planet issue. Congratulations Sylvia.

WITS member in zero gravity flight
Congratulations to Niamh Shaw WITS member on completing a zero gravityflight this August in Star City Russia. Niamh has had a busy summer, she was an inspiring speaker at Inspirefest2017, a lecturer at the Space Studies programme in CIT and she will be speaking for WITS ishortly. Follow Niamh on Twitter and read about her on her website.

PhD survey: So how was (is) your PhD?
WITS members Niamh Shaw, Marion Palmer and Jane Grimson are exploring the experience of completing a PhD. Thank you if you did their survey here. You may still be able to contribute but it is closing shortly. The findings of this survey will be presented at the 26 September workshop at the Royal Irish Academy.  

Member Profiles
Reminder: Profiles for WITS website.
Please send a brief profile with an image to for inclusion in the member profiles featured on our website ( We are updating and expanding our website at the moment and want to substantially broaden our representation of women across STEM featured on the website. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us!

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 September 2017 and we'll include it in the next newsletter.
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