Students urged to break down gender barriers on International Women’s Day

Students urged to break down gender barriers on International Women’s Day


Photo: Arthur Ellis

Transition year students from St Caimin’s Community School and St Patrick’s Comprehensive in Shannon were told to dream big and reach for the stars, literally. 

In a thought provoking panel discussion on diversity, sponsored by Shannon Engine Support (SES) and Shannon Group, held to mark International Women’s Day, acclaimed scientist and aspiring astronaut Dr. Niamh Shaw told students to  ignore gender stereotypes and boldly go forward in their careers with hope and ambition.

She said: “Never apologise for what you dream of becoming – we are all different people it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else, except yourself. Stop looking for reasons why life isn’t as you imagined. Instead get up, show up and give it 100%.”

During the discussion, the students were treated to the combined wisdom and experience of a wide range of business, academic, scientific and community leaders.

Among those participating was Julie Dickerson, Managing Director of SES; Mary Considine, Deputy CEO, Shannon Group; Loyola O’Brien, Chief Fire Officer and Airport Police Sergeant at Shannon Airport; Dr Owen Doody, Senior Lecturer at University of Limerick; Dr Leah Wallace, Physics Lecturer at Limerick Institute of Technology; Marie Crowley, Sergeant, An Garda Síochána.

Photo: Arthur Ellis

Moderated by Andrew Murphy, MD of Shannon Airport, the panellists detailed their own journeys through their career paths and discussed the importance of diversity both in society and the workplace.

Keynote Speaker Dr. Niamh Shaw, who devotes her time to informing and educating people about space and science, believes it is essential young people are encouraged to follow their dreams and don’t be afraid to risk failure.

She said: “I  want you to start to explore your perception of failure, it’s something that can often prevent us from taking even one step forward. If you can change your notion of what failure is, that can have a positive impact on how you view your life and more importantly, your goals and aspirations. “

SES Managing Director Julie Dickerson said diversity in the workplace benefits everyone. “The best companies in the world are the ones that celebrate difference, that have people from different backgrounds. That means there’s the world of opportunity out there for you.  Think of what Niamh Shaw wants to do; she wants to be the first Irish astronaut.  That shows you that if you truly want to be something, set your mind to it, plan it out, you can get there.  If you have a dream, however big that is, chase it.  The journey will be so worth making in the end.”

Mary Considine, Shannon Group, spoke of the importance of focusing on the huge gains we have made in terms of bridging the inequality gap.

She said: “Everyone male or female will more than likely be faced by some degree or another of inequality in life, whether it is gender based, socio inequality, age inequality, etc.

It is a very exciting time for young people like yourselves who are about to embark on their adult life and careers. It is important I think to face the future with optimism.”