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Researchers from UCD win SSPC’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion award
September 26, 2022

Congratulations to Maria Rosa Fernandez Pison, Francesca Giulia Nacca and Mara Di Filippo at University College Dublin (UCD), School of Chemistry on winning SSPC’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) award, that recognises an individual, group or organisation that has demonstrated exceptional commitment to the promotion or advancement of EDI.

This award was kindly sponsored by APC Ltd. Pictured above: Brian Glennon, Senior Director and Co-Founder – APC Ltd. presenting the award to supervisors Dr Marcus Baumann and Dr Andrew Phillips, University College Dublin on behalf of Rosa, Francesca and Mara, below.

These three women, PhD students in UCD School of Chemistry, chose to be members of the school EDI committee, to be part of something we really believe in and be a part of UCD’s vision “To be a leader and role model in equality and diversity in the higher education sector nationally and internationally, and for EDI to be at the heart of all we do’’.

For this reason, they created the series ‘Behind the position’ with the aim to stimulate the sensitivity of the public by addressing issues that affect the society in which we live. With this in mind, on the 23rd of May 2022, the first EDI symposium was hosted called ‘Not just the 8th of March’.

The aim of this event was to raise awareness to postgraduate students, principal investigators and staff about the essential role of women in academia and industry for the achievement of a healthy gender balance in the workplace

The event was organised in an unusual location for a symposium, the UCD Cinema, and was structured in two sections of 1 hour each, with a coffee session in the middle to allow the audience and speakers to talk and share ideas. Over the course of the morning, seven speakers from different employment backgrounds, work and/or family situations, genders and cultures shared their life experiences and hurdles to achieve higher career positions.

With these talks, the intention was to raise questions on how women faced different obstacles during their professional life and trigger a change in the societal idea that women need to choose between raising a family or pursuing a career. The event raised a plethora of positive feedback and many people showed, days after the event, the possibility to join the EDI committee in the school.

Also, the trio realised that the presence of a male speaker allowed other men to engage with the cause, oftentimes considered a “women problem”. Prior to the EDI symposium, most of the UCD School of Chemistry was unaware of the existence of the committee and its pledge on supporting gender equality as well as diversity and inclusion in the University.

Speaking about the event, the women said: We believe that the conference has acted as a catalyst for improving the general consciousness that more equal balance in gender working conditions will not only help women but the society as a whole. Furthermore, it has also allowed people to see the person behind the position and value them not only for who they “became” but also for who they are and what they have lived through. As PhD students, we intended to introduce women role models to younger scientists. For us it was important to show them that despite the difficulties, it is our responsibility to make the professional workplace more inclusive and accessible to everyone regardless of their gender, culture, religion, or background. We strongly believe that big changes must be made together.

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