International Day of Women and Girls in Science highlights importance of full and equal participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – Gov.ie

From Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine 
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The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Research and Development, Martin Heydon, T.D., has taken the opportunity on this International Day of Women and Girls in Science to highlight the importance of full and equal access and participation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Minister Heydon said that
‘‘I warmly welcome the focus of to-day’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science on the theme of ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: Water Unites Us’ and the related Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation). Securing women’s engagement across all aspects of society is essential to securing a truly equal, well-functioning and democratic society’’.
In relation to women’s involvement in science, technology and innovation, Minister Heydon added that “
In December, my Department announced the results of its most recent competitive research Call which saw 24 projects being awarded total funding of €20.1 million. Ten of the successful coordinators are women, with another 36 women collaborating across 19 research performing organisations in Ireland and Northern Ireland. These women join 13 others that led projects funded through my Department’s competitive research programmes in 2019 and 12 in 2017. I am delighted to see this strong representation of female coordination of research projects funded by my Department’’.
An example of one of these project leaders is Dr. Eibhlís O’Connor, who is a Principal Investigator, Lecturer and Course Director of the BSc. Food Science and Health programme in the Department of Biological Sciences, at the University of Limerick. In commenting on the role of women in science, Dr. O’Connor believes that
‘‘Female representation in science is vital; indeed, there is now an emergence of women leaders in science, which is not only important for science as a discipline, but also to inspire future generations of young girls to pursue careers in science”. She went on to say that ‘‘it is vital that we foster female interest in STEM education from an early stage to ignite an interest in the pursuit of science at third level, and to further inspire females to pursue both academic and research careers. This will help bridge the gap in gender equality and ensure women continue to become recognised for conducting and advancing vital scientific research. Therefore, it is critical that women are visible in science to nurture this interest in younger generations and that women in science act as mentors to inspire, guide and navigate them along the path to scientific success’’.

Notes for editor:
Dr Eibhlís O’Connor is a Registered Human Nutritionist, Principal Investigator, Lecturer and Course Director of the BSc. Food Science and Health programme in the Department of Biological Sciences, UL. She has a BSc and PhD in Nutritional Sciences from University College Cork (UCC).
She is the project Co-ordinator and Principal Investigator on a DAFM research funded project entitled ‘‘Characterising the effect of Dietary Fibres on the Gut Microbiota and Metabolic Health in ‘at-risk’ individuals: Opportunities for New Food Product Development – FIBREMET’’
https://www.ul.ie/scieng/dr-eibhlis-oconnor
Full details of these DAFM Competitive Research Funding Programme and awards are set out in https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/bde7d-research/
International Day of Women and girls in Science https://www.un.org/en/observances/women-and-girls-in-science-day
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