10 Mar 2019

2018 Women in Mathematics Day in Dublin

by Romina Gaburro

University College Dublin (UCD),

August 29th, 2018.

Webpage of the event.

Organising committee:

  • Co-Chairs: Isabella Gollini, Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin
  • Committee members: Michelle Carey, Vasiliki Dimitrakopoulou, Mark Dukes, Claire Gormley, Gabrielle Kelly, Pauline Mellon, Neil O’Connell, Adamaria Perrotta, Michael Salter-Townshend, John Sheekey, Helena Smigoc.

Sponsors:

  • Irish Statistical Association (ISA);
  • Science Foundation Ireland (SFI);
  • Irish Mathematical Society (IMS);
  • Women in Technology and Science (WITS).

Format of the day and participants

The Women in Mathematics Day Ireland (WIMDI) has become an annual conference since its inauguration in 2010. The conference is a multi-faceted event that includes plenary talks, academic and industrial research talks, poster sessions for participants, panel sessions on gender equity and thematic events. Its aim is to advance gender equity in the mathematical sciences in Ireland and to form a forum to encourage, support, and inspire women at all stages of their education and careers. This year’s event took place in the ICON Theatre of the O’Brien Centre for Science at University College Dublin (UCD) and it was greatly co-chaired by Dr Isabella Gollini and Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin. A centrepiece of the event was the celebration and acknowledgment of Sheila Tinney‘s work in the mathematical sciences and to mark the centenary of her birth. Sheila was the first Irish woman to receive a PhD in Mathematics, the first female fellow of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS) and one of the first four women to be admitted to the Royal Irish Academy. She also lectured at University College Dublin, where the conference took place. Invitation to attend WIMDI 2018 was extended to all interested in finding out more about mathematics, from the general public to industry, from post-primary students to undergraduates, from PhD students to professors. The registration was free and open to all. The event attracted over 100 participants from all over Ireland.

From left to right: Hugh Tinney, Dr Isabella Gollini (Co-Chair of WIMDI 2018), Dr Sandra Collins, Prof Orla Feely, Mary Mitchell O’Connor (Minister for Higher Education), Ethna Tinney, Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin (Co-Chair of WIMDI 2018) and Prof Brendan Murphy (Head of School of Mathematics and Statistics, UCD).

WIMDI 2018 began with opening addresses by Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor and by UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact Prof Orla Feely, followed by the presentation of a plaque commemorating Sheila as the first Irish woman to receive a PhD in mathematics. Her commemoration continued with presentations by her son Hugh and daughter Ethna telling family stories, by Dr Marion Palmer (Women in Technology and Science Ireland, WITS) and Dr Doireann O’Kiely (Oxford University).

The morning’s programme ended with a keynote lecture given by Prof Sally McClean (Ulster University) on “The working model: making an impact with mathematics”. A student poster session took place during the lunch break. It was greatly organised, showcasing research from post-graduate and final year undergraduate students in mathematical sciences. This provided an important opportunity for the students to engage with peers, meet leaders in academia and industry and communicate their work. It also provided insight to post-primary and undergraduate attendees on potential paths for their studies in mathematical sciences. The afternoon continued with three more talks delivered by Dr Sandra Collins (Director of the National Library, Ireland), Prof Ailish Hannigan (University of Limerick) and Dr Anca Mustata (University College Cork). The team of the Girls Mathematics Olympiad Ireland 2018 was also introduced: Mayya Golitsyna, Anna Mustata, Laura Cosgrave, Tianyiwa Xie and Yixin Huang.

The conference ended with two talks on initiatives about how to improve gender equality in mathematics by Dr Romina Gaburro (Regional Coordinator for Ireland of the European Women in Mathematics (EWM), University of Limerick) and by Dr Rochelle Fritch (Science Foundation Ireland Gender Strategy). In celebration of the centenary of Sheila Tinney’s birth, an Irish Scientist plaque was unveiled in her honour. The plaque was sponsored by the UCD College of Science and will be hung at the entrance to the School of Mathematics and Statistics. As an additional aknowledgement of this special celebration, the national Women in Technology and Science (WITS) organisation presented the UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics with a print of the Vera Klute portrait of Sheila Tinney. Congratulations to Isabella and Aoibhinn for organising such a special event. It was a pleasure to be part of it!