Trailblazing in STEM: International Women and Girls in Science Day
International Day of Women and Girls in Science, organised by the United Nations, takes place on Friday, February 11.
Portobello Institute is marking this day with a series of blog posts, highlighting the work and achievements of many of our team and students who excel in sciences, sharing our insights on the topic and getting behind the awareness on social media with the hashtag #WomenInScience
Portobello supports the work of women in science through STEAM subjects and learning in early childhood studies and our sports science qualifications.
This blog post was written by College Director, Denise Flood. You can read her full profile here.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
Many moons ago upon leaving school I followed a path to a chemistry degree that many women at this time would not have considered. A perpetuating stereotype and culture was prevalent where science and maths were seen as “boys” subjects. Much has changed thankfully since then but there still persists a subconscious impression that scientists are grey-haired, old, cuckoo men with glasses and a white coat.
Research signposts that girls in school are half as likely to choose STEM subjects for leaving certificate and the reasoning is often accredited to the intangible nature of STEM.
However, changing the discourse for young girls to include famous women scientists of great importance can help to increase interest in the subjects.
For example, Marie Curie a polish-born French physicist and chemist best known for her contributions to radiation in cancer treatments, Lilian Bland the first woman in Ireland to build and fly an aircraft, Alicia Boole Stott, a self-taught mathematician, born in Cork was one of the first people in the world to explore four dimension geometrical figures, and of particular interest nowadays an Irish born Medical Doctor Dorothy Stopford Price, a Trinity College graduate, who is attributed the accolade of introducing the first set of BCG vaccinations to St Ultans Hospital to stem the Tuberculosis epidemic in the 1950s in Ireland.
Each of these women in their own right forged a path in unknown territory in the world of STEM.
From my own perspective completing an applied chemistry degree gave me the skills in later life that I have used in roles completely unrelated to science.
I gained a methodical and systematic approach to projects that I was assigned to. I gained attention to detail, checking and rechecking my work for errors. I learned to write in a structured and scientific way so that the reader could clearly understand the concept I was putting forward. I work in a solutions way, so where others see problems, I automatically set about trying to find a solution to the problem. I accredit this mindset to my early work in science.
The skills gained, while I moved out of the science field, prepared me to work in any sector I worked in which included policing, teaching and education management and leadership.
Find out more
The theme for the 7th International Day of Women and Girls in Science Assembly in 2022 is “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us”. Read more about that here.