Tuesday 5th February: Day one of CIT’s eagerly awaited ‘Advance’ seminar kicked off today (Friday 1st February) at the CIT Nimbus Research Centre, as 40 of the college’s Technology students at both undergraduate and Masters level gathered to learn from a select group of female professionals. The two-day seminar – the second phase of which will take place on Friday 8th February – aims to encourage female students to excel and persevere as they strive to establish a successful career within the male-dominated Technology industry.
Also in attendance on the day was Michael McGrath TD, who has been a continuous supporter of such events. Addressing the crowd, Mr McGrath described technology as “all pervasive”, recognising the fact that it is an exciting time for an initiative like ‘Advance’. He also praised the “role models” present, for giving young Technology students an incredibly positive example and a worthy goal to aspire to.
The seminar was the brainchild of CIT’s Dr Ramona Marfievici, who was inspired to establish a forum for young females studying within the broader tech field in Ireland, after she was invited to participate in the CRA-W (Computing Research Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research) in San Francisco last year. Together with her colleagues Oonagh O’Brien (Department of Computer Science, CIT) and Catherine Murphy (Department of Accounting and Information Systems), along with members of Cork’s dynamic tech community, Dr Marfievici brought her vision to life with the coordination of CIT ‘Advance’.
Day one of the event provided plentiful food for thought for the students in attendance, with a welcome address from Dr Orla Flynn who, in her role as Vice President for External Affairs at CIT, has been a staunch supporter of Women in STEM initiatives. Kicking off the day’s proceedings, Dr Flynn told the students present that it was her and her colleagues’ “duty and responsibility” to nurture them during their time at CIT. A series of talks from successful female professionals followed, with students gaining valuable insights into a career in the Technology sector from representatives of Dell EMC, VMware, IBM, Poppulo, Apple and McKesson Cork, who in their own right, have been very active in their goal of promoting the role of women in this thriving industry.
McKesson, the oldest and largest healthcare company in the U.S., maintains an extensive and dedicated Cork team, which provides expert Corporate Business, Finance and IT solutions supporting a wide range of company partners worldwide. To achieve their goal of promoting women in technology, McKesson Cork sponsors a Women in IT Scholarship, which is now in its second year. Each year, the paid Scholarship is presented to a new female student of Computer Science at CIT and once awarded, is in place for each year of their undergraduate degree. As well as providing financial assistance, the Scholarship also offers an onsite internship within McKesson, which takes places during the third year of study. A mentorship element is part and parcel of this attractive initiative, giving students the opportunity to learn from the many talented software developers, network analysts and cyber security specialists employed by McKesson Cork.
Susan O’Riordan, (a native of Banteer) of McKesson Cork, one of the contributors to CIT ‘Advance’, was quick to praise the event, saying: “I’m so proud to be a part of this seminar today; not only as a representative of McKesson but as an avid supporter of women’s success within the Technology industry. McKesson Cork have enjoyed partnering with CIT in recent years with the advent of our scholarship programme, so it’s wonderful to continue and affirm this collaboration at today’s event. I hope that the students in attendance will soak up all the information presented across the course of the two days and use it in a positive and proactive way.”
Also commenting on the importance of the event, keynote speaker Dr Orla Flynn said: “As Chair of CIT’s Athena SWAN Self-Assessment Team, I’m delighted to support my colleagues in the ICT/Tech disciplines in CIT, who are raising awareness among our female tech students of the many opportunities out there for female graduates. CIT is already involved in a range of initiatives to encourage girls to study in the STEM disciplines, and it is very heartening to see this support continuing for our female undergraduate and postgraduate students. Being in a minority can be isolating, and the recent work on our Athena SWAN submission highlighted that there are areas of CIT in which female students are underrepresented. Positive actions, such as the development of networks and other supports can make a huge difference. We’re also really grateful for industry engagement with this initiative.”
Aside from talks and discussion groups, day one of the seminar also featured a series of practical workshops, which gave expert guidance to students in the areas of CV preparation, interview tips and techniques and how to successfully build a brand. Day two of CIT Advance (8th February) also promises a jam-packed schedule, which includes a welcome address from Tim Horgan, Head of Computer Science at CIT, a LinkedIn workshop and mock interview sessions. Dr Breda Kenny, Head of the School of Business, who along with Catherine Murphy has been very focused on promoting a Technology career option for women undergraduates in Business Information Systems, will close next week’s event.
For further information on McKesson Cork, visit www.mckessoncork.ie.