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International Women's Day at Brightwater

08 Mar 2016

Anne-Marie Walsh

As we approach International Women’s Day in 2016, it looks like we are finally seeing some significant advances as Irish women leaders take their place amongst the decision makers of our nation.

“It’s only when you have a critical mass of women in politics that you get women’s issues attacked.” – Mary Robinson.

As we approach International Women’s Day in 2016, it looks like we are finally seeing some significant advances as Irish women leaders take their place amongst the decision makers of our nation. The 32nd Dáil will have at least 32 female representatives, and while we haven’t yet achieved an equilibrium, this represents a very positive step. Looking further afield in politics, there’s a strong possibility that for the first time in US history, we will witness a female president entering the White House with a “first gentleman” in attendance (proud to say that the Irish people achieved this back in 1990!). This positive shift in politics is reflected in the emerging business landscape in Ireland, with a number of women at the helm at multinational and Irish organisations. Female leaders include Anne O’Dea, co-founder at Silicon Republic, Caitriona Hallahan, MD at Microsoft, Fiona Muldoon, who is CEO of FBD Insurance and Nikki Evans who founded Perfect Card, the corporate reward card success story.

If we want to continue this momentum and allow the next generation of female leaders to demonstrate equal impact in our society, we must encourage our little girls to see beyond stereotypes and promote awareness of female leadership in the technology space. It is unfortunately broadly acknowledged that in third level education, women are underrepresented in STEM courses and the need to focus on the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) in the curriculum for girls and boys alike is clear.

The Brightwater Executive team had the pleasure of attending the Business and Finance awards ceremony in December 2015, where Mary Robinson was honoured by Kofi Annan with a Lifetime Achievement Award. On the evening, Robinson made a reference in her speech to growing up in a family where there was no differentiation made between her and her older brothers. Each child had equal educational opportunities and this foundation provided her with the stability and self-respect in an otherwise unequal society at the time.

On 2016 Internationals Women’s day in Ireland, it would be remiss not to remember the women of 1916 as we commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising. Countess Markievicz was one of the original trailblazers, going on to become one of the first ever women in the world to hold a cabinet positon.

Today offers an opportunity to look back at our heritage of strong female leadership, look to the girls of today, and to look to how we can best enable them to become impactful female leaders of tomorrow.

Anne-Marie Walsh is a partner at Brightwater Executive. A graduate of UCD and Smurfit Graduate Business School, Anne-Marie specialises in Executive Search and Selection focusing on senior IT appointments at CIO / CTO / CDO / COO, IT Director and Head of function levels.

Connect with Anne-Marie on Linkedin -> https://www.linkedin.com/in/annemariewalshbw