The Maths Week Ireland co-founder was recognised for her contributions to the promotion of STEM in Ireland.
On Monday (30 September), it was announced that Maths Week Ireland co-founder Dr Sheila Donegan has been honoured with the Network Ireland National Businesswoman of the Year Award in STEM.
Donegan, who is also the director of Calmast at the Waterford Institute of Technology, was described as a “passionate advocate and driver of STEM skills development nationally” at the Network Ireland ceremony.
Donegan has held her role at Calmast since 2003. During her time there, she has actively promoted STEM regionally, nationally and internationally. Calmast’s activities reach 20,000 annually in the South-East region, and a further 400,000 nationally during Maths Week.
Maths Week Ireland, which Donegan co-founded with her colleague Eoin Gill in 2006, is the biggest maths festival of its kind in the world. Its model is now being replicated in Scotland, Madrid, Oxford and there are now plans for a nationwide UK Maths Week.
This year, Maths Week takes place from 12 to 20 October.
Businesswoman of the Year in STEM
Dr Donegan said: “I’m delighted and honoured to win this prestigious award. It’s great to see the importance of STEM recognised by Network Ireland, with this new award.
“It’s important that everyone, and in particular girls and young women, realise that there are many rewarding careers in STEM available to them. I hope that by winning this award, I can continue to work as a role model and encourage more young women to engage with STEM.”
“This award endorses the importance of work in promoting STEM which is benefitting women and wider society, and which needs greater focus particularly for young women,” Dr Donegan added.
Dr Donegan has previously won a number of national and international awards for her work, including the 2006 EU Descartes Award (the EU’s highest award in science communication, which was previously won by David Attenborough and Bill Bryson), for her primary school science magazine Eureka. Eureka was also made in collaboration with Gill.
Donegan is currently a member of the NCCA Board of Science studies, a member of the RDS Science and Technology Committee, and in 2016 was elected to the council of the RDS. She is also the chair of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) education division in Ireland and serves on the education council of the RSC division in the UK.
Recently, Calmast launched a new initiative called the Bealtaine Living Earth Festival, which features 85 events celebrating biodiversity and our living earth, co-ordinated by Cordula Weiss, a finalist in the Network Waterford Rising Star category.