@AnnODeaSR – she who puts the A in STEM via #inspirefest

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I just got to breeze in one door and out the other for this year’s Inspirefest in Dublin, but what I saw and heard in that very short time still has my head buzzing.

Ann O’Dea of Silicon Republic has a lot to be thanked for – she has built a beautiful showcase of women who are getting on with making the world a better place for everyone. Her thoughtful curation and graceful chairing of this event is lovely to watch.  When people argue about whether STEM should have an A in it, I say ‘yes, if A is for Ann; Ann is the original A in STEM!’

I just got there in time to hear the later morning talks – Arlene O’Neill of TCD and Lisa Looney of DCU speaking of encouraging girls into the physical sciences and engineering; Sue Black telling her story of disrupting her own life and now empowering others to do the same; Kelly Hoey outlining how every move we make is forming our own network; Anne-Marie Tomchak of Mashable and Raju Narisetti of Gizmodo (NOT a token man in any way – he’s one of the sanest voices on Twitter right now) giving us the naked truth about current media not-so-fake news affairs; and Michelle Cullen passionately calling for more gender showcasing action like the recent Women On Walls project supported by Accenture.

Emer Coleman, whose by-line on the programme said Technoethics, was the highest of highlight for me. In her brief, fast-paced transit across the stage (more of this kind of thing next year, Ann!), she delivered a searing wake up call to us all about current data management worldwide, and the need for each of us to think about where we’re allowing ourselves to be led. New word (and thought) of the moment for me – disintermediation. Ouch.

I was delighted to meet teenage students there, a group from Bridge21 with Grace Lawlor, and a group with UCD’s Aoibhinn Ní Shuilleabháin – what an experience!

All too soon it was time to grab the yummy portable lunch, and out the other door for me…sorry I had to miss so much of the awesome others I have heard and read reports about since.

Thanks, Ann and Inspirefest team.

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