To celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day an event was hosted by WITS (Women in Technology and Science) on Science and Society on Tuesday March 8th.
To celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day an event was hosted by WITS (Women in Technology and Science) on Science and Society on Tuesday March 8th. The discussion, which focused on how women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) can use their work for societal benefit, also marked the 21st Anniversary of WITS.
Mary Robinson, who was the first patron of the organisation, said in a video message that 21 years ago, there were not enough women in science and technology; but now thanks to “the championing and efforts” of WITS, women are well represented. She said the next challenge is to affect the science itself and encouraged WITS members to think about the area of climate change as one where “women in leadership and women in science and technology can really make a difference”.
The panellists included Dr Tara Shine, Head of Research and Development here at the Foundation along with Dr Olive Heffernan, Chief Editor of the journal Nature Climate Change and Dr Aoife McLysaght, Senior Lecturer in Genetics at TCD. The discussion looked at a number of issues including the role of women scientists in influencing society, climate change and climate justice and the communication of science.
Tara Shine introduced climate change as an issue which challenges science’s ability to inform society. She pointed out the complex and uncertain nature of climate science which makes it challenging to communicate. She explained that climate justice seeks to protect those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and to ensure equitable access to the benefits arising from responses to climate change. She also highlighted the opportunities arising from investment in the green economy for both developed and developing countries. She said that a positive approach, focusing on opportunities can change the conversation on climate change.
Olive Heffernan discussed women in science and how traditionally there are relatively few women involved in climate science. But she said that climate research is shifting in focus to become more interdisciplinary. She said there are now opportunities for research on climate change in many other areas, such as natural and social sciences, in which there are traditionally a higher number of women. She also looked at the area of communicating science and in particular climate change.
Aoife McLysaght also discussed the issue of communicating science, an area where she has become increasing involved in. She said that that communicating science is not just about having the correct facts but there is also a need to be persuasive. She said that the more different voices and different ways that are used to explain science, the more likely it is to reach the audience.