Fostering passion for STEM among women essential to future success

By Business & Finance
19 June 2015
inspirefest 2015 launch
Pictured (L-R): Ann O’Dea CEO, Silicon Republic; Niamh Scanlon, mentor and coder; and Kerry Howard, author and Bletchley Park researcher

Fostering a growing passion for science and encouraging young people, especially young women, to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is essential to future success.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD today delivered the opening address on the second day of Inspirefest 2015, a new, three-day, international sci-tech event aiming to showcase diversity and leadership in STEM at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin’s Silicon Docks.

Addressing 2,000 Irish and international delegates of whom 75% were women, Kenny commented: “For Ireland to remain competitive and demonstrate real leadership in the STEM sectors, we must attract the best talent. By highlighting the extraordinary work being done by women in the STEM areas, Inspirefest and Silicon Republic have done a magnificent job in making sure that, by our choices, our policies and our priorities now, we break down barriers for future generations.

“Fostering a growing passion for science and encouraging young people, especially young women to take up careers in the STEM is essential to future success. So in terms of Ireland’s next generation, we’re taking a targeted approach to making sure we have the right skills and the right gender balance in these areas and I’m pleased to see that the numbers of girls taking STEM subjects at second and third level are growing.”

In addition to An Taoiseach, delegates heard from video game developer Brianna Wu, who found herself at the centre of the GamerGate controversy last year; Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code and Louise Kenny, Director, Irish Centre for Fetal and NeoNatal Transnational Research (INFANT).

Cindy Gallop, founder of If We Ran the World and Make Love Not Porn delivered the closing address which focussed on ‘Making Money while Doing Social Good’.

Inspirefest has challenged the status quo in the STEM sectors by featuring a speaker line-up and attendance list dominated by high-achieving women. Speaking at the close of the second day of Inspirefest 2015, Ann O’Dea, founder of the event and CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Silicon Republic said: “It is our hope that Inspirefest 2015 has encouraged girls and women to study STEM subjects and understand that it is for them too – not just for boys – and that there are a range of opportunities available to them in these fields.

By giving a platform to female and minority group leaders, we hope to spread the message that in a white male-dominated environment, it is time to redress the imbalance, and we want this event to help empower and inspire those women already in the sector. Finally we aim to inform and support our male allies who are seeking to learn how they can help make a difference.”

In addition to the daytime events at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, an extensive fringe festival and outreach programme takes place for delegates as part of Inspirefest 2015. Inspirefest Fringe brings together technology, design and the arts in Merrion Square Park, featuring talks and panel discussions as well as film screenings and musical performances.

The Inspirefest Fringe will close on Saturday 20th June with a day of free family-friendly workshops in Merrion Square Park, bringing together leading Irish STEM community groups: CoderDojo, DCU Girls Hack Ireland, TOG, Hardie Kids, Coding Grace, TCD Walton Club and Dublin Maker, along with Intel and Year of Light, who will host a whole range of activities including coding, hardware hacking and workshops. From coding to hardware hacking, there will be workshops for small kids (ages seven and up) and big kids, so that adults can learn some basic coding too.

A full schedule is available at