UCD Smurfit Students and Alumni launch new initiative to address gender equity
UCD Smurfit Women, Inspiring More will host its first event on January 19 to promote the continued strong trajectory of women from education to industry
“Many university graduates who enter the workforce are unaware of biases or prejudice against women, and their first experience of such can be a form of culture shock,” said Andrew Tang, MSc in Finance student at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, who also has 15 years of experience working in the finance industry.
“These issues are now more openly discussed at the professional level as firms become more progressive, and it is therefore important to give students a foundation from which to build a change in culture and attitudes— a foundation which will be applicable not only for women but also for men to become allies early on in their careers.”
This was the drive behind the formation of the new initiative, UCD Smurfit Women, Inspiring More.
The initiative is designed to raise awareness of the challenges that women face in the move from education to the professional environment and to form a network where these topics can be openly discussed. The initiative is led by MSc in Aviation Finance students Andrew Tang (Sydney, Australia) and Hannah Taylor (Dublin, Ireland) and alumna Rebecca Yue (London, England).
“As students and alumni in male-dominated disciplines of study, and with prior experience in promoting the interests of women in corporate positions, we wanted to create a forum/network where university students can learn and openly discuss topics like the gender pay gap or unconscious bias, as they prepare for their careers,” said Rebecca Yue, Marketing Analyst at Jackson Square Aviation. “We also want to encourage more females to undergo Masters-level degrees as part of their journey to leadership.”
Rebecca’s background is in chemistry, as well as teaching. During her education, she found that there were few female role models in chemistry— an observation she took with her into the classroom as she promoted STEM subjects to all of her students.
“I am passionate about helping women to have the right tools and support before entering the corporate world in order to help with their future success,” said Rebecca. “I currently work in a commercial marketing team where there are only three females on a team of 12 and one SVP who is a woman. Diversity and Inclusion initiatives are important to me and I want to contribute to, and participate in, promoting the equity of women in male-dominated industries.”
UCD Smurfit Women, Inspiring More will launch with a webinar on Tuesday, January 19. The webinar will feature UCD Business alumna and North American Advisory Board Member of the UCD College of Business, Helen Doody, who is Managing Director and Head of Abbey Capital in the USA. Helen will share her professional journey in the international finance field and in her current role at Abbey Capital, a leading Irish-owned investment management firm with presence in Europe and North America.
“In recent years female leaders have become more prominent in the world of business and politics,” said MSc in Aviation Finance student Hannah Taylor. “There are various established corporate and industry-oriented groups to promote gender equity, but not as many at the university level. We want to fill this gap as it forms an integral part of emotional intelligence and cultural development.”
Hannah completed an internship at KPMG in the summer of 2019 and was the only female on a team of 17. “I was lucky in that I have a strong character, so the gender imbalance did not negatively affect me. However, I know some of my colleagues may have found that environment difficult. The challenges women face are things we hear about but aren’t prepared for throughout our education. By launching UCD Smurfit Women, Inspiring More, we hope to better prepare women to take on these challenges, and build awareness amongst male colleagues, so that together we can take steps to eradicate these issues.”
“At UCD Smurfit School, we empower future business leaders to have an impact in the world of business and beyond,” said Professor Gerardine Doyle, Director of UCD Smurfit School and Associate Dean, UCD College of Business. “Our new initiative, UCD Smurfit Women, Inspiring More, advances this mission and gives our students and alumni a platform to prepare fellow students with the tools and knowledge to combat gender bias as we work towards a more equitable world. Our initiative seeks to foster the practice of lifting others up rather than tearing them down.”
The group is supported by Professor Doyle and Dr Alessia Paccagnini, Academic Director of the Master in Quantitative Finance programme at UCD Smurfit School and Co-chair of the Executive Committee of UCD Women@STEM.
“We want to ‘inspire more’, encouraging women to think beyond preconceived notions of glass ceilings or barriers in anything they pursue,” said Dr Paccagnini.
The webinar will take place over Zoom on Tuesday, January 19, 13:00 (Dublin), 08:00 (NYC). Register here.