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Science Foundation Ireland Provides €4.8 Million Boost for Female Science & Engineering Researchers

Minister for Trade and Commerce, Mr. Michael Ahern T.D, today (Wednesday 12th July ) provided a major boost for female science and engineering researchers with the announcement of a €4.8 million research investment in two Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) programmes.

The bulk of the investment goes to The SFI Principal Investigator Career Advancement Award (PICA), which provides assistance to academics undertaking research following maternity, adoptive, carers or parental leave. Under the scheme, 10 researchers will receive a total of €4.3 million in funding over a three-year period.

The balance of the investment, €503,000, is awarded to University College Cork (UCC), Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and University of Limerick (UL) under the separate SFI Institute Development Award. This funding will enable the universities enhance the participation of women in science and engineering research activities through the establishment of long-term sustainable initiatives.

Minister Ahern said: “We want to increase the number of women conducting internationally competitive research. The returns on this investment will include world-class research, positive role models and increased female participation in Irish science and engineering research.”

Minister Ahern added that the implementation of the new Government Strategy for Science, Technology & Innovation 2006-2013, will create considerable career opportunities in the science and technology sector. “Women represent a significant and relatively untapped resource from which many of these additional researchers can be recruited.”

The latest European Commission Women in Science and Technology (WiST) report shows that despite the increasing number of female university graduates, female participation in research is low across the EU, representing just 18% in the private sector and 35% in the public sector.

A total of 46 applications were received in response to the PICA call in 2005. SFI selected the 10 successful applicants following a rigorous international peer review process.

Dr Pat Fottrell, Chairperson, SFI, said: “The key criterion in the selection process was scientific excellence and innovation. Applicants were judged at the highest level comparable to the SFI Principal Investigator programme.”

Dr Fottrell added that the proposals from UCC, Trinity and UL under The SFI Institute Development Award were identified by the review panel as those which could significantly change the research culture and successfully advance the opportunities of women in research and management in science and engineering. All three proposals were extremely impressive, realistic, feasible and likely to achieve significant institutional change within the universities.

Alva O'Cleirigh | alfa
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