Visionary women celebrated in Ireland

International Day of Women and Girls in Science even

International Day of Women and Girls in Science event. Credit: BritEmbDublin/X

On the occasion of the International Day of Women & Girls in Science and St Brigid’s Day, the British Embassy in Ireland organised a unique event in Co Kildare, the site of St Brigid’s historic monastery.

The gathering took place in Co Kildare on Friday, February 9, chosen for its historical significance, on a day dedicated to celebrating both past and present female visionaries.

The event, titled ‘Information and Misinformation through the Ages: Past, Present, and Future’, brought together a distinguished group of scientists, scholars, and policy experts from both Ireland and the UK to shine a spotlight on women’s contributions to artificial intelligence.

Bridging the gender gap

‘Today we are joined by women who are scientists, researchers and policy makers who work in the area of AI across the UK and Ireland.

‘Events such as these, where women can share, connect and celebrate their work are so important as a significant gender gap still persists at all levels of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines,’ remarked Elin Burns, the British Deputy Ambassador to Ireland.

This selection of Co Kildare as the venue was not just a nod to history but also a celebration of the 1500th anniversary of St. Brigid’s death, recognising her as a pioneering leader and Ireland’s only female patron saint.

Opportunities and challenges

The dialogue at the event underscored the transformative potential of AI across various sectors, from healthcare to transportation. ‘On the theme of AI; we are in the midst of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.

‘Artificial Intelligence promises to further transform nearly every aspect of our economy and society,’ Elin Burns added, highlighting the importance of managing risks to fully leverage AI’s opportunities.

This approach aligns with the UK Prime Minister’s initiative of hosting the first Global Summit on AI Safety.

Unveiling myths and promoting inclusive innovation

Dr Niamh Wycherley shed light on the perpetuation of misinformation, specifically concerning St Brigid, illustrating the broader issue of bias and the need for critical engagement with historical sources.

‘At today’s event I have been exploring fake news and perpetuated myths around St Brigid of Kildare.

‘As a medieval historian, I am interested in how the reliance on inherently biased sources, and a lack of knowledge around new tools, has often led to the perpetuation of false narratives in Irish history, especially in relation to women.’

Erin Young from the Alan Turing Institute discussed the institute’s commitment to fostering responsible and equitable AI development. ‘Our Women in Data Science and AI project sits in the Public Policy programme at The Alan Turing Institute.

‘We conduct data science and social science research to inform policy measures promoting responsible and inclusive innovation, and increasing equity in AI, in the UK and globally.’

The event also featured a panel discussion led by Dr Susan Leavy and included voices like Dr Georgiana Ifrim, Imogen Schon, and Nic Flanagan, each bringing unique perspectives on AI’s ethical, economic, and societal implications.

This convergence of visionary women in Kildare served not only as a commemoration of historical figures like St Brigid but also as a forward-looking dialogue on the role of women in shaping the future of science and technology.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.