Inspirational career talks and public events for Athlone

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As part of this year’s Midlands Science Festival which takes place across the Midlands from November 13th to 20th, a series of high value careers talks will take place in local schools. Local development company Midlands Science have arranged to bring a number of role models with science or technology backgrounds into Midlands’ secondary schools to deliver these career talks and demonstrate in a hands on way why a career in science is a good choice.  Volunteers for this initiative are from life sciences organisations and technology companies, as well as from research centres and academia such as NUI, Maynooth, UCD and Athlone Institute of Technology. Many of the speakers are past pupils of the schools they will attend.

Jackie Gorman, Midlands Science Festival director said,

‘Science expertise involves whole-life learning beyond what happens in school so we are delivering these career talks in collaboration with key corporate and academic partners and the aim is to increase participation in science and technology education and careers in the Midlands.  In addition to presentations being held throughout regional schools we also have a free breakfast seminar taking place in the Sheraton Hotel on the morning of November 16th and in particular we are encouraging third level graduates to come along to this to hear from one of our company partners, Abbott Diagnostics in Longford. The morning will also provide an opportunity to hear from leading recruitment expert and Midlands native, Anne Heraty of Cpl Resources.’

Along with a number of events taking place in schools, there are other public events taking place throughout Science Week including one all about exploring the science of sleep! This event which takes place in the Little Theatre in Athlone on the night of November 18th promises a highly informative evening with plenty of discussion and question time. Dr. Craig Slattery, a science communicator and Specialist Lecturer at University College Dublin who is originally from the region Craig will address the audience as will Dr Silke Ryan, Consultant in Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at St. Vincent’s University Hospital and Research Fellow at UCD.

Jackie Gorman continued,

‘The Midlands Science Festival has partnered with Burgess of Athlone for this event and Burgess has kindly donated a very generous prize of 200 euros to spend in their bedding department to celebrate the event. The winner of this voucher was Bregeen Hegarty so we would like to thank Burgess and congratulate Bregeen and hope she enjoys her prize.’

Photo: Dr Andy Fogarty of Athlone Institute of Technology who will speak in an Athlone school during Science Week

Inspirational Career Talks

Dr Mary GuinanAs part of this year’s Midlands Science Festival which takes place across the Midlands from November 13th to 20th, a series of high value careers talks will take place in local schools. Local development company Midlands Science have arranged to bring a number of role models with science or technology backgrounds into Midlands’ secondary schools to deliver these career talks and demonstrate in a hands on way why a career in science is a good choice.

Volunteers for this initiative are from life sciences organisations and technology companies, as well as from research centres and academia. Many of the speakers are past pupils of the schools they will attend.

Earlier this year we enjoyed a series of similar talks from an inspiring speaker with Midlands roots, Dr Mary Guinan, who told the story of her amazing science career as a medical detective! (see photo)

Science Talks and Student Opinions at Tullamore College!

We were delighted to visit Tullamore Colge yesterday where we held science career talks from local toxicologist and Midlands Science board member Dr.Craig Slattery and also from HR specialist and board member, Anne Scally.

A number students were also interviewed on the day and asked a series of questions about STEM careers. We got some really good feedback and were delighted to hear that students choosing science in Tullamore College is undoubtedly on the increase! We look forward to going back for more talks and discussion during Science Week.

Science Career Talks Galore!

We are really looking forward to a wide variety of career talks this year; some will be pitched students from Transition Year upwards and some will be delivered to younger students who haven’t yet made specific future subject choices.

It is so important that we provide speakers who can talk to young people about their own experiences and also about the wide variety of careers on offer if you choose to pursue a course in science at third level. In the past we have had everything from sports psychologists and lecturers to science communications managers and physics experts! This year we will have talks from technology and health companies, nutritionists, a toxicologist and an experienced maths enthusiast to name a few!

In Conversation with Tullamore native Debbie MacCaffery

Debbie you are originally from Tullamore in the Midlands but are working as a Science and Maths teacher in Australia..is that right?

Yes, I have worked as a Science and Maths teacher since coming to Australia. My current position is part time (3 days per week), as I still have small children. I teach junior Science and Maths and then I have a senior Maths Class and a Chemistry class too. The courses for high school differ slightly here but the majority of the content is very similar to what is covered at home. I really enjoy teaching in Australia and in particular I love teaching students for whom Maths and Science may be a struggle. It is my challenge to find a way to communicate a difficult idea or concept in a way that makes sense to them.

What course did you choose after secondary school/why? My degree was in Chemistry and Microbiology from UCD and then I did a Higher Diploma in Education at Trinity College to become a teacher . Maths and Science teaching suited my 3rd level course perfectly.

What was your favourite subject at school and why? (assuming it was a science one!)

Science and in particular Biology was probably my favourite subject at school, by a nose over the rest of the subjects I did for my Leaving Cert. I think the reasons that I loved Biology are still the same today as they were in Mrs Garry’s class!! Firstly, I love the fact that within the boundaries of our skins and skeletons, reside these immensely complex and independent organisms, capable of intellectual brilliance and physical feats, but yet whose equilibria can be so easily disturbed. I also am a passionate Environmentalist and I think that Biology and Chemistry studies helped to shape this. I follow lots of Science blogs just to find out new facts and for the thrill of the knowledge. I love passing on those insights.

What kind of science subjects did you study as part of your journey to the career you chose?

In school I took Biology and Chemistry as my senior science choices. I then studied Chemistry for my degree along with Microbiology and Biochemistry, Statistics and Mathematics and some I.T.

What would you say to someone considering a career in science?

A career in Science is the start of a life long journey of learning. Initially after school I wanted to be a doctor or a physiotherapist. I had two great Science teachers who instilled in me a love of Biology and Chemistry and even though I was not studying or pursuing my initial career choices, now I have come around to think that for some of my students, I could be the person who inspires them to follow a career in Science themselves. Science is so varied in it’s career opportunities today – from Marine Biologists to Lab Technicians, and Dental Hygienists to Climate Change Technicians. There are jobs that will exist in years to come in Science fields that we haven’t even planned yet. These jobs will be technically centred and will require trained scientific thinkers. In particular I like to see more girls taking Science subjects, if they enjoy them, as a door to a science career. In 2015, the UK Education Secretary said data produced by London Economics consultancy showed that girls who take Maths and Science at high school senior year levels go on to earn a third more in wages than those who keep to the Arts and Humanities.

Famelab returns to the Midlands!

Suzanne DunneWe are delighted to be bringing Famelab back to the region this year for a special event which will take place in Mountmellick Library for students on Friday 13th November. We caught up with one of the Famelab performers to hear more…

Suzanne Dunne is a microbiologist who has also dabbled in a bit of molecular biology. A few years ago, she made the leap back into research and in 2014 she completed a PhD with the Graduate Entry Medical School in the University of Limerick.

What first inspired you to pursue a career in science?

I don’t know that my goal was ever to pursue a specific career in science. All I know was that from an early age I always wanted to know how things worked – and that curiosity, I think, leads you towards wanting to study science – or at least it did for me. So I followed my interests and curiosity and did my first degree – a Batchelor of Science. I ended up majoring in microbiology and minoring in biochemistry because those subjects appealed to my interest in how the human body worked and particularly in relation to how illnesses and diseases were caused. Because if you understand the cause, it’s a big step on the way to finding a cure. And of course as a microbiologist you also learn how to make interesting things like yoghurt and beer and antibiotics!

From there, I was offered the chance to do a Master of Science degree by research and I worked in the area of host-microbe interactions for two years. This work moved me more into the area of molecular biology, which is an understanding of how illness (amongst many other things) works at the molecular level. When I finished this degree I got a job in the pharmaceutical industry – due to the expertise I had gained in both of these degrees – and while I started off working in a lab, I have moved into many different areas over the years and I now work in Quality Management and Regulatory Compliance.

Some of the experiences I had during my time in industry sparked another curiosity in me and led me to eventually returning to University to pursue a PhD (which is a doctorate degree), which I was awarded that at the end of last year. For this degree I did research into usage of, and opinions towards, generic medicines, and also on the accuracy and availability of medical and healthcare information that is available to people on the Internet. Some of the work that I’ve published in this area has been quite influential and was recently presented to the Irish government and to the EU Commission. Also, a recent report from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health on the cost of prescription medicines in Ireland was directly informed by my research, and my work led to three of the recommendations made in this report. As most scientists aim to see their work have some impact in the world, having my research directly influence government policy and decision making is something I’m very proud of, and if I’d never made the choice to study science in University, I would never have been able to do that.

Suzanne, why are you such a firm believer that science should be communicated in as fun and audience-friendly a manner as possible?

I think that sometimes people are a bit afraid of science because they think that it’s complicated and will be too difficult to understand – but a lot of the time this isn’t the case at all. It’s a bit like speaking another language – if you don’t speak French, you might not understand what’s happening when you visit Paris – so if you haven’t studied science you might find it difficult to understand because science has a language of its own. But that’s not to say that it can’t be translated.

So, for me at least, that’s where making science ‘audience friendly’ comes into science communication – that translation from science-ese into English. And so many aspects of science can be amazing and even mind-blowing – those ‘wow’ moments when you discover something new or find out something you’d been curious about for ages. When you see how amazing technology can be or when you can have a greater understanding of how the universe works – or even how we, as humans, work. In fact, some of the most amazing science, in my opinion, is in biology (although I also have a love of physics – even though I don’t understand a lot of it!). Some of the best science isn’t just fascinating – it’s also disgusting , but in a good way! And if you’re into icky side of things, you’ll have to come along to the talk I’ll be giving at the Midlands Science Festival where I’ll be telling everyone about fascinating, yet icky, science at its best!

What can we do to encourage more people to study science?

I think that humans are naturally curious, and it’s that curiosity that has led to all of our scientific and technological advancement. Someone seeing something and wondering “Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if…” or “I wonder how that works…” and the like. So encouraging that natural curiosity in school would help. And also de-mystifying STEM subjects and topics and improving exposure to good science communication might also be a good path to take in this regard.

Also, I think there’s a bit of a misperception out there that science is ‘hard’ and studying it means that students might be more open to failure, but I don’t think that’s the case. Having science festivals like the Midland’s Festival can only help in dispelling such myths and getting today’s students – who are tomorrow’s scientists – to see that science is about curiosity and exploration. It doesn’t matter, for example, if you’re not good at maths, not all science is mathematical in basis; and besides which most scientists work in teams so if you need to do statistics, for example, for a project, then chances are you can ask a statistician to help you – and not have to worry about doing the stats yourself, if that’s not your cup of tea. Science is varied and multidisciplinary, so scientists must be varied and multidisciplinary people – and once you find the area of science that you love and want to pursue, it won’t be hard, it will just be amazing. (although there may be a tough exam or two along the way…)

Tell us about your exploration into the inner workings of the pharmaceutical industry and how the medicines we take are regulated and manufactured? What was most interesting about this?

I’ve worked in many different areas within the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry for nearly 20 years. So this means that I’ve gained a really good knowledge about how our medicines are invented, developed, approved for use, manufactured and monitored. I’m not sure if I could pick one area that I found most interesting, but generic medicines and the similarities and differences between them and proprietary (or brand-name) medicines is part the space that I worked in for my PhD, so that must have been one of them!

What is quite interesting in this industry is to get the see the enormous amount of work that has to be done – often over many years – to get a new drug onto the market. And also the work that happens at a regulatory level – on a national and international basis – to ensure that our medicines are safe and effective. I recently had the privilege, though having been involved with FameLab, to present my research at an EU Commission conference which was held to celebrate 50 years of pharmaceutical legislation in Europe. That meeting gave me a much fuller appreciation for all of the people whose work is all about making sure that our medicines are safe and effective, and that there are paths in place to get new medicines to patients for illnesses that might not have treatments available at present.

An Insight to Health Psychology by Local Lass Sinead Malone..

Sinead maloneSinead you are originally from Tullamore in the Midlands but studied in Northern Ireland, what course did you choose in Belfast and why?

I chose to study for a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at Queens University in Belfast. I enjoyed science subjects while at school and was particularly interested in Psychology. I researched a few degree options and decided to also explore courses available through the UCAS system. When I got my leaving cert results I was lucky enough to have an offer to study psychology at NUI Galway and an offer for Belfast. I wish I could say my decision was based on a well thought out strategy or course content but in the end I just chose to go a bit further afield for an adventure!

I fully enjoyed my degree and Belfast was a fantastic city to be a student. I became particularly interested in the specific field of Health Psychology and later undertook a Masters degree in Health psychology at the University of the West of England. At that time Health psychology was quite a new discipline and there weren’t any Masters courses on offer in Ireland.

Can you tell us a little about what Health Psychology is?

Health psychology is the study and application of psychological theories and models to health, illness and healthcare. Health psychologists use their knowledge of psychology and health to promote general well-being and understand physical illness. They are specially trained to help people deal with the psychological and emotional aspects of health and illness as well as supporting people who are chronically ill.

Are there many different career options for people who complete this course?

People who are trained in health psychology can work in a variety of settings such as hospitals and community health trans, health research units, public health departments and university departments. Consultancy companies may also employ health psychologists to provide expertise such as training, research or intervention skills.

What is your current role?

I currently work within the Health and Social
Care system in Northern Ireland on a project to promote delivery of more integrated and personalised care for people with long term conditions.

What would you say to someone considering a career in science?

I would absolutely encourage people to progress a career in Science. It is a vast discipline which offers a huge range of career opportunities and has relevance to every aspect of life. The most exciting thing for me is that whatever aspect of Science you are involved in it is always evolving and changing so it never gets boring and there’s always more to learn and know!

When it comes to science, the sky is the limit!

I had the pleasure of recently chatting to Margaret Franklin, Science writer, Vice President of the Institute of Chemistry and friend to the Midlands Science Festival….

You retired in 2009 as Senior Lecturer in Chemistry at Athlone Institute of Technology. What are you spending most of your time on now Margaret?

Since I have retired, I am devoting a good deal of my time to professional affairs. I have been a member of The Institute of Chemistry of Ireland, the professional body for chemists in this country for the past 40 years.

For many years, I was Midlands Representative for the Institute and later I was co-opted onto Council. This meant that I became a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute. I served as Registrar for four years, from 2007 to 2011. In April 2013, I was elected Vice President, a position I hold at present.

The Institute of Chemistry of Ireland is an entirely Irish Professional Body and is affiliated to EuCheMS. which is a federation of European Chemical societies. Weencourage representatives of our Young Chemists Group to become involved with the European Young Chemists’ Network, by providing them with travel bursaries to attend meetings in various European countries. We review submissions from Universities and Institutes of Technology, when they introduce new chemistry programmes, to assess the eligibility of graduates of these courses for membership of our Institute.

Apart from this, I have taken up some freelance science writing in my retirement. For over three years, I wrote a regular column for ‘The Westmeath Independent’ called ‘Topical Science’. The aim of this column was to give readers some scientific background to topical news stories, as they arose in the media. I am now a regular contributor to ‘Science Spin’ magazine. Recent articles I have had published there include one on Crystallography and another on the aftermath of Fukushima. I also provide answers to some of the questions in the ‘Ask a Scientist’ feature.

As a science writer, why do you think good science communication is so important?

I find that there is a lack of well-informed comment on scientific matters in the Irish media. In writing about scientific topics, it is important to stick to accurate scientific findings and argue from logic, rather than emotion. Sometimes journalists, perhaps in an attempt to get eye-catching headlines, are inclined to indulge in scaremongering and overplay the risks involved in certain cases, for example on environmental matters.

The problem is that not many journalists have had a scientific training, so they themselves may be unable to appreciate the issues involved. On the other hand, scientists and particularly scientific researchers, are accustomed to communicating their research finding to their peers, who understand the scientific terminology involved. The general public would not be familiar with the precise meaning of scientific terms. So, to be a good science communicator, one needs to have a thorough understanding of the science involved and also to be able to express those ideas clearly in non-scientific language.

Why are events like the Midlands Science Festival so vital for encouraging young people to consider a future in a science career?
Unfortunately, Science education education has not been given a high priority in Ireland and careers guidance teachers rarely have a scientific background. At the same time, many parents may not have had the opportunity to study science
when they were in school, so not many children are exposed to strong scientific influences and it may not occur to them to consider a career in science. So it is wonderful that the Midlands Science Festival is bringing the work of scientists to the attention of the public, to raise awareness of the importance of science in our modern society and to show that science can be fun, as well as providing a training for a successful career..

Can you tell us a bit about your work on Crystallography?
I am not an expert on Crystallography, but I have taught it, along with other topics, as part of the chemistry courses I have taught over the years. I have always been fascinated by crystals, ever since my father gave me a present of a chemistry set
when I was a child in primary school. We were not taught any science at that level when I was going to school, but I had great fun growing crystals at home.

This year, 2014, has been designated by UNESCO as The international Year of Crystallography, so I have been trying to raise awareness about it. Most people are fascinated by crystals and appreciate the beauty of large mineral crystals that are sometimes sold as ornaments. All over the world, there are exhibitions and conferences being held on crystallography.

The Institute of Chemistry of Ireland adopted Crystallography as the main them of our 2014 Congress, which was held in Limerick in September, hosted jointly by The University of Limerick and Limerick Institute of Technology.

What are some of the more exciting science jobs that you are seeing now or you see for the future?

A Scientific education and training opens many possibilities. In Ireland, The Pharmaceutical Industry is a major employer of scientists, particularly chemists, chemical engineers and graduates in Pharmaceutical Science. Within this industry, chemists may be involved in quality assurance, where analytical chemistry is used. Chemists are also involved in devising better methods for synthesising active ingredients, or in developing formulations that provide more efficient pathways for delivering the active ingredient to the patient. The medical devices sector is also a major employer of scientists in Ireland.

Analytical Chemists, Food scientists and microbiologists are needed for the food and beverages sector, which is also a major employer in Ireland. A number of scientists are employed in the Public Service. Hospitals employ laboratory technicians, the Public Analysts laboratories, the State Laboratory, the EPA & The Marine Institute employ many scientists.

It seems that the moratorium on employment is the Public Service is coming to an end, so there will be jobs available. There is also a need for well-qualified science teachers, to pass on the knowledge to the next generation of scientists. Some of our brightest and best will find exciting careers abroad, but there are also a limited number of academic teaching and research positions available in universities and institutes of technology in Ireland. Some of the research fields that are undergoing exciting developments right now include materials science, nanotechnology and photovoltaic devices to trap solar energy. SFI provides a source of funding for such research.

But science is primarily about satisfying our natural human curiosity about how the universe works. Some of our future science graduates may become involved in ‘Big Science’ projects, such as particle research in collaboration with CERN or the search for exo-planets in orbit around distant stars. When it comes to science, the sky is the limit!

Top Interview Tips and More with Cpl Director, Judith Moffett

judith moffett cplWhat type of jobs do you recruit for at Cpl?
My team recruit for scientists, engineers, supply chain and construction specialists. In the science & engineering area, this includes qualified candidates who work in the Biotechnology, Pharmaceutical, Medical Device, Electronic, Food, Energy industries in either Manufacturing, Engineering, R&D or Clinical related roles. The specific roles we recruit for include quality assurance, quality control, microbiology, regulatory affairs, production, technical services, validation, process engineering, commissioning, qualification, maintenance, instrumentation, design, R&D and EHS.

In the supply chain area, the specific roles we recruit for include procurement, supply chain specialists, buyers, planners, schedulers, warehouse, logistics, category managers and CMO roles. In the construction area, we recruit for engineers, quantity surveyors, architects, estimators, property managers and contracts managers.

What strategies do you use to qualified candidates for the roles you recruit for?
Cpl uses their database predominantly to source qualified candidates. The Cpl database has over 1.3 million cvs with 31,000 additional cvs coming through each month. In addition, we use advertising, networking and referrals, Linked in, Facebook and Twitter to source candidates.

What really impresses you on a CV or job application?
A well formatted cv, with no spelling or grammatical errors. A cv should lead with a candidate’s education and then their most recent, employment experience and additional roles listed in chronological order. A candidate needs to create, a specific, tailored cv for each role that they apply for.

How should a candidate prepare for an interview with a top Life Sciences company-what are your top tips?
The key to an interview is preparation. It is important to cross reference your cv against the job description and have relevant, work-related examples to demonstrate your knowledge of the duties on the job description. Have at least four to five, different examples prepared. First impressions are key. Arrive ten to fifteen minutes early, no earlier, it will put your interviewer(s) under time pressure. Ensure that you wear a suit, ideally dark in colour (navy or black). Be first to offer a firm handshake (no limp fish!) and ensure you maintain eye contact. Say your full name when introducing yourself.

During the meeting, remember one thing…listen. Listen carefully to the question asked and keep your answer as relevant to the question as possible. Do not ramble or go off on a tangent. Watch for your interviewer’s facial cues to know when you have said enough.

A guaranteed question to be asked, is “What do you know about the company?” Or “Why do you want to work for this company?”. The candidate should research the company in detail. Not just what is written on the company website, but additional, research beyond the website. It is impressive if a candidate can relay information about a company’s current share price, know detailed information about any mergers or acquisitions, relay information on any recent awards and/or be able to discuss a company’s drug pipeline in detail.

It is important to give the interviewer(s) the impression that you want this job with their company and not just a job. Many people fall down on this question and do minimal, company research.

Another important part of interview research is to try to understand the culture of the company that you are interviewing with. Most companies will have their core values listed on their site. It is important that a candidate takes these into consideration during the interview and demonstrates through their answers, how he/she could fit in with these core values

Why should students consider a career in science?
Ireland has an incredible track record in the science area and for this reason there is a future of exciting, world class opportunities for science graduates in Ireland.
The Biopharma industry has made a capital investment of $8 billion in new facilities in Ireland, most of which has happened in the past 10 years. This is almost the largest level of investment in new biotechnology anywhere in the world. Currently, Ireland’s annual exports of pharmaceutical, bio and chemical provide is produce is valued at €55 billion per annum.
Ireland is the 8th largest producer of pharmaceutical products globally.
Currently 9 of the 10 top pharmaceutical companies and 17 of the top 25 medical device companies have significant operations in Ireland. Ireland has also become a very significant player in the biotechnology industry and several high, profile start up companies have established operations here in the past 12 months including Regeneron and Alexion.

What are some of the ‘jobs of the future’ that you have come across recently?
Technology is changing at a incredible pace. For any graduating in the next 5 to 10 years, jobs will exist that don’t exist now. For example, genetic counselling is an up and coming global area.

What was the last really great role that you recruited for, that would suit someone just graduating from college?
There are several great career opportunities that will suit someone graduating from college with 3 – 6 months, relevant experience. Examples include quality control analyst positions or junior documentation roles in a biotech, pharma or medical device environment. Graduates who choose degrees that offer an industry work placement, have a higher chance of securing a role when they graduate.

In Conversation with Ursula Farrell…

UrsulaLast week, we had a chance to catch up with Technical Sales Manager for Synergy Health in Tullamore, Ms. Ursula Farrell. Ursula will be showing some students around her company’s facility during Science Week and providing them with insights into what it is like to work for a medical devices company…She will also be carrying out some fun experiments with younger pupils and providing some valuable lessons, such as the importance of hand-washing!

What is your role within Synergy Health and what do you like most about it?
I am the Technical Sales Manager for Synergy Health which means I am responsible for dealing with all our customers, taking care of their needs and making sure they are happy.

At Synergy Health we make sure that all Medical Devices made in Ireland are clean and safe to be used by patients. At the Doctor’s office all the equipment you see will have been cleaned at Synergy Health so there are no possible germs present. In hospitals, all the instruments used in the operating theatre will have been cleaned at Synergy Health too. During surgery, anything used for the patient will have been sterilized like a stent to go into your heart or a new knee or hip replacement.

The thing I like most about my job is that I get to deal with lots of new people every day but also I know we are helping to save people’s lives.

Tell me about why you decided to pursue a science career in the first place?
I always enjoyed science in school because we got to look at animals and plants and how they work in Biology. Chemistry and physics were harder but once you gave it a chance, it was so interesting and there were lots of experiments and learning about how the world works.

I was worried that choosing science as a career would mean working in a laboratory and having very little choice in where I wanted to work but this is not the case. With my Science degree I was still able to choose to work in the Sales and Marketing department and I needed to have a science back ground to be able to explain to our customers what we do.

Why is it important for companies to support events such as the Midlands Science Festival?
I think any company with a background in Science should be involved so we can encourage children at a young age to understand what studying science can do for them. There are so may varied aspects to a career in Science that perhaps they don’t understand. Allowing Children to see the internal workings of a manufacturing plant or a laboratory and to show them how these jobs help people every day will make Science as a subject more interesting.

Are there are any specific challenges in attracting women into science related fields and do you have any suggestions on how this could be addressed?
There are far more women involved in Science and Engineering today, in fact most of our Technical Engineers are women here in Tullamore. Science was always perceived as a tough subject to pass at school, especially in chemistry, but once you have confidence about your chosen path and are open to the subjects they become so interesting.