On the 29th of August, the Women in Mathematics 2018 conference, hosted this year by the School of Mathematics and Statistics at University College Dublin took place. The event was an amazing experience, we got to meet up with interesting people across the mathematics field, and the audience was able to learn so much more about mathematics. At the beginning of the talk, Minister Mitchell O’Connor talked to us about the importance of bringing more girls into maths, and joy one can find in exploring the field of STEM. After the motivational talk, the audience gained amazing insight into the life and work of Sheila Tinney, an Irish mathematician, physicist and educator. She was also the first Irish woman to achieve a PhD. And there were also introductions from other women involved in mathematics about their work. Works involving the use of mathematics that ranges from health statistics to physics, including a project involving the building of a database for public libraries. An element of pure maths was introduced as well, which involves a bit of intuition and brain cells to understand, but awe-inspiring at the same time. It was fascinating to hear about where mathematics can take you across the world and across different branches of study. It was very motivating to hear about their work, and for me, deeply reassuring. Being a girl dreaming about going into mathematics, to hear about the real-life achievements in mathematics of other wonderful women makes my choice seem less daunting to me.
I think there is a power in conferences and talks like this. It has a deep effect on the audience, whether they are involved in the field already or a member of the general public. It give insights into other people’s work, it opens up our eyes and can lead a change in our minds. Connecting with other people who have the same interest and passion, and clash your idea with them can spark creativeness and friendship you never expected to happen.
In the morning, there was a group of Transition Year students who caught an early train just to attend this conference. I think this was the best part of the conference, spreading dream of STEM in the hearts of students of the next generation…and who knows? The next Sheila Tinney might have been in the audience that very day.