Friday, October 26, 2007

From Surviving to Thriving: Women in Science

On Monday 22nd October the Centre for Women in Science & Engineering Research (WiSER) at Trinity College Dublin, hosted a one-day conference entitled “From Surviving to Thriving: Women in Science”.

Among the aims of the conference were to

  • to educate and debate the cause of women’s under-representation in academic science, engineering and technology (SET) in Ireland
  • to learn about the successful Irish initiatives that are having a positive impact on the working environment of female scientists
  • to learn from experience: hear stories of women who are thriving in SET

It was the later that attracted me – feeling I haven’t been making as much progress in my research as I should and also feeling exhausted from balancing kids and work (had been up most nights the previous week with a sick toddler) I decided to head to Dublin for some much needed inspiration and a chance to network.

It was well worth it. There were some very interesting presentations in the morning session, (you can check the WiSER website for more details) including one by Dr. Ita Richardson on a Gender Audit that was completed here at UL. The results will be available sometime in November I believe . The afternoon consisted of very open and frank discussions from women working at all levels of academic SET. These discussions focused on the particular challenges and experiences faced by women in SET.

What I found really inspiring about the entire day was the positive tone, it was really about educating ourselves as women, understanding the challenges we face in the SET workplace and learning how to manage and overcome them. The outcome was overwhelmingly a feeling of encouragement and also the recognition that careers can be managed. While many women (myself included) take a career break to raise children it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to the give up on re-entering the workplace or making a contribution. Lack of confidence and isolation were among the many findings that emerged in terms the obstacles women faced in SET. I found this external reflection of what I had been feeling really beneficial. It is much easier to feel inspired and encouraged when you know you are not alone and others have overcome similar challenges and progressed in the field. What I found of most benefit though was the recognition that it is circumstances and not ability that are the limitations at present and circumstances will change. There were some excellent tips given on mentoring schemes and the importance of networking. All in all a day well spent, and I’m back feeling reinvigorated and far more optimistic.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

We won the best poster award!

Just a brief update, more about CASCON'07 later!

After being exiled in a far corner and getting but a few visitors, we thought the poster was mainly a nice exercise for our group and nothing else!

But when the award was announced, we(Gabriela and Daniel) found out with amazement that we actually won the big prize! So we got our 15 min of glory and Gabriela was given the chance to present our work to the Dublin CASCON audience:)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Our poster for CASCON

Gabriela and Daniel will represent our group at CASCON in Dublin, on Wednesday 24 October 2007.
The IBM CAS Software and Systems Engineering Symposium 2007 (Dublin Ireland) is the third annual IBM Dublin CAS research symposia organised as a multi-track single day event on October 24th 2007. This symposium is organised in association with CASCON 2007 the 17th Annual International Conference on Computer Science and Software Engineering and in cooperation with Lero, the Irish Software Engineering Research Center .

In our continuous battle with deadlines, we didn't manage to submit our paper on qualitative research methods in studying Global Software Development intended for this conference.

Having spent so many months at IBM Ireland, we felt we needed to bring some contribution to this annual event, so we will present a poster on emergent collaborative work practices. Each box is meant to illustrates practices we've observed - related to social networking, communication, cultural differences, dealing with time and space constraints...

What we're trying to do is to reflect this understanding of practice back to the practitioners now ...

Pretty colourful, isn't it?!

STARs certificate presentation

Today, Muireann O'Brien, the secondary school teacher who joined our group for the summer, received her STARs certificate from the Minister of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, Michael Martin at a ceremony that took place in Cork, at the Rochestown Park Hotel.

12 other teachers received their certificates of participation today. The official news can be read on the SFI website.
Unfortunately, none of us could go there, so we asked Clare McInerney, the Lero Knowledge Transfer and Outreach Officer, to be our messenger congratulating Muireann on this occasion!

Muireann promised to visit the IDC soon, together with a group of transition year students from the Carrigaline Community School. We're looking forward to their visit!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The new SFI DG visiting UL

Today, Prof. Frank Gannon, the new director general of Science Foundation Ireland, visited the University of Limerick.
Liam and Gabriela attended a meeting in the elegant Library Board Room, where the UL Research VP, Prof Vincent Cunnane, introduced Prof Gannon to approx 50 academics and researchers who came to hear about the approach and the plans of the new SFI director.
It was mentioned that research within UL receives no less than 54mil euro from SFI, a lot of research projects (our included!) depending on this funding.

The visit coincided with Frank Gannon's 100th day in the new position. After a brief presentation of the various programmes funded by the SFI and of the intentions for the future, he patiently answered to questions from the audience. Some disfunctionalities were brought to his attention, new alternatives explored, future trends discussed. The Towards 2016 Action Plan was mentioned on several occasions.

It was weird to see that some people kept on referring to their own rejected projects and bad experiences, preventing other colleagues from speaking.

Can't remember last time when I spent 2h in a meeting without checking my watch;)