Our website uses cookies to enhance your browsing experience and to collect information about how you use this site to improve our service to you. By not accepting cookies some elements of the site, such as video, will not work. Please visit our Cookie Policy page for more information on how we use cookies.

News & Events

Minister Heather Humphreys and Secretary General Dr Orlaigh Quinn host Countess Markievicz Conference: Celebrating Women Leaders in Ireland

New postgrad scholarship will fund research to aid the development of policies to support the next generation of women leaders

Dublin, Wednesday, 20 November 2019: Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD and the Secretary General at her Department, Dr Orlaigh Quinn are today (Wednesday, 20 November) hosting the Countess Markievicz Conference: Celebrating Women Leaders in Ireland in the House of Lords Chamber at Bank of Ireland, College Green.

The theme of the conference, moderated by Dearbhail McDonald, is leadership by Irish women – past, present and future and Minister Humphreys will deliver the opening address. The initial panel discussion will discuss Women Leading in Politics and Public Life and Dr Quinn will respond to this discussion.

The conference will feature a video address from Maureen O’Brien, Brigadier General in the Irish Defence Forces. Dr Leeann Lane from DCU will then reflect on the legacy of Constance Markievicz for the next generation of pioneering women.

A second panel discussion will focus on Women Leading in Business and Science before Professor Yvonne Galligan delivers the keynote address. The conference will close with an address by Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD.

During the Conference, Minister Humphreys will announce an exciting new postgraduate scholarship from her Department, in partnership with the Irish Research Council, which will honour the legacy of Countess Markievicz and assist in increasing the participation of women in senior leadership roles.

The scholarship is for a PhD fellowship at any eligible higher education institution in Ireland and the Irish Research Council will make a call for applications in early 2020.

In advance of the conference, the Department commissioned a Behaviour and Attitudes survey among 5th year female students and teachers focusing on their ambitions, aspirations and interest in leadership roles with a focus on politics and public service. The findings of this survey will form the basis of the research by the winner of the postgraduate scholarship and will inform future policy in the area of women in politics, business and science.

Among the many interesting findings of the survey were that 80% wanted to go to college, 87% wanted more women Ministers, only 2% wanted to be politicians and 62% admired Michelle Obama.

Minister Humphreys said:

I want to celebrate the achievements of Countess Markievicz and the achievements of other female leaders in Irish public life by bringing together a group of today’s leading women in business, science and public service to discuss their experiences, and to explore what we can do to encourage and support the next generation of Irish female leaders.”

The Minister continued:

I want my Department to lead in developing policy to support high achievement by the next generation of pioneering women like Countess Markievicz.  I am therefore delighted to announce this postgraduate scholarship, in partnership with the Irish Research Council, which will ultimately support the development of policy aimed at increasing the participation of women at senior levels in politics, in business and in science.”

Dr Quinn added:

In my role as Secretary General, championing women’s talent, leadership and advancement is an important priority. Our conference is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the journey that women in this country have taken, and also on the distance that remains to be travelled. Our postgraduate scholarship will help to inform the direction of that travel and will also ensure that many more avenues will be open to women in getting to that destination.”

A number of students and teachers from Firhouse Community College, Loreto Fermoy, Santa Sabina, Sutton and Bridgetown College, Wexford also attended the Conference.

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD, will deliver the closing address to the conference. 

As proceedings ended, Minister Doherty said:

We have made many gains in recent years to improve female participation levels in politics but we have much more to do. The B&A survey shows that there is a strong desire amongst young women for greater female representation at the highest levels but, paradoxically, very few of those surveyed actually want to become politically active themselves. I think we need to address the structural obstacles which deter women becoming involved in politics as well as the current levels of vitriol and abuse online which I believe are deterring many bright and talented potential candidates from getting involved.” 

Ends. 

Countess Markievicz Conference — Celebrating Women Leaders in Ireland

Notes for Editors:

Running order for Countess Markievicz Conference – Celebrating Women Leaders in Ireland

9.30 – Opening address by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D.

9.45 – Panel Discussion – Women leading in Politics and Public Life

10.25 -Video address Brigadier General Maureen O’Brien, Irish Defence Forces

10.30 – Response by Dr Orlaigh Quinn, Secretary General, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

10.45 – Reflections for the next generation of pioneering women on the legacy of Countess Markievicz- Dr Leeann Lane, DCU

11.30 – Panel Discussion – Women leading in Business and Science

12.10 – Keynote address Professor Yvonne Galligan, Technological University Dublin

12.30 - Closing address by Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD.

Panel participants: Women Leading in Politics and Public Service Panel

Name

Title/Organisation

Councillor Hazel Chu

Dublin City Councillor

Mary Coughlan

Former Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Patricia King

General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Professor Brian MacCraith

President, DCU

Aidan O’Driscoll

Secretary General, Department of Justice and Equality

Panel participants: Women Leading in Business and Science Panel

Name

Title/Organisation

Gary Kennedy

Co-Chair Balance for Better Business. Chair of Greencore plc, Green REIT plc and Connect Group plc.

Dr Nora Khaldi

Founder and Chief Science Officer, Nutritas

Professor Anita Maguire

Vice-President for Research and Innovation, UCC

Jackie Noakes

Chief Operating Officer, Bank of Ireland

Feargal O'Rourke

Managing Partner, PWC

Postgraduate scholarship

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, in partnership with the Irish Research Council, is announcing a new postgraduate scholarship, in honour of the legacy of Countess Markievicz, to aid the development of innovative national policies and practises to support the next generation of women leaders.

This scholarship will fund a postgraduate researcher to undertake cutting-edge research, with the guidance of an expert advisory group, to develop the evidence base required to remove barriers and to create the supports needed to enable women to rise to the top of business and public service in Ireland.

The Irish Research Council will open a call for applications in early 2020. Applicants may be based at any eligible higher education institution across Ireland.

Survey results—Research among 5th year girls and their teachers 

B&A surveyed 769 girls and their 34 teachers in 23 schools focussing upon girls ambitions, aspirations and interest in leadership roles with a focus on politics and public service. Please find the link to the Survey results here: The Markievicz Survey 

A summary of the findings are listed below:

  1. Girls admire a really motivating group of people such as Michelle Obama etc.
  2. Most girls want to go to college (80% do) and two out of three girls feel that they will realise their career ambitions.
  3. Parents are the key career influences although university websites and social media play a big role too (and all of these more than teachers).
  4. 58% would like to manage people, 44% to start a company but 87% want to see more female ministers. They want to see women in politics but they don’t necessarily want to be the boss themselves (yet).
  5. Girls feel that they need to be much more Powerful, Ambitious, Confident and Intelligent to be leaders: this is the difference between the qualities they have and how they see leaders.
  6. Most are more interested in working in the private sector than in the public sector: it seems to be hard to get public sector Transition Year roles.
  7. 75% feel that women make career sacrifices to have children BUT 68% still feel that a family friendly role is something that is important to them.
  8. Girls are not very interested in politics and indeed their focus on current affairs seems very low. That said, they are interested in the principle of more women being involved in politics, if not necessarily themselves.
  9. Sports involvement does correlate with girls being more confident and assertive and seemingly being prepared to take leadership roles.
  10. Teachers feel that girls need extra assistance in many areas, and particularly to overcome worries around confidence and public speaking etc.
  11. Notable differences in results between girls-only and mixed schools...girls are a lot more assertive and focussed on women's rights in single gender education.
  12. That said only about one in three are actively feminist (or identify with the term.) This is about the same proportion that teachers project the girls to be interested in.
  13. A substantial majority of teachers see single gender education as better for girls.

 

Back to Top