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“People of Ireland should know & be proud of the 12 extraordinary women,” Laura Mahoney, RIA
: Laura Brennan
‘Woman on Walls’ documentary explores a timely discussion about the role of women in STEM & gender equality as a whole
Marked as one of its programmes to highlight the week of International Women’s Day, RTÉ One will broadcast the documentary ‘Women on Walls,’ which seeks to make women leaders visible and to inspire the next generation. It will air on Thursday 9th March at 10.15pm.

The 52 minute programme follows the campaign by Accenture in partnership with the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) to honour the 1st four  female  members of the RIA and shine a spotlight on 8 living scientists, leaders in their fields in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

 “The Academy wants to create role models to inspire our future generations. The people of Ireland should know and be proud of the twelve extraordinary women whose portraits will hang on the walls of Academy House for years to come,”Laura Mahoney, Executive Secretary, RIA.

For the first time in its 230 year history the prestigious Royal Irish Academy will hang painted portraits of female academics on its walls in Academy House, Dawson Street.

‘Woman on Walls’ goes behind the scenes to reveal the significance of the event, following the artists at work capturing portraits of the subjects themselves, both past and present.

Against a backdrop of increasing spotlight on gender issues and gender equality, award winning artists Blaise Smith and Vera Klute are challenged with painting these portraits and celebrating extraordinary Irish women, past and present from sciences and humanities.

With eight living scientists who are all recipients of the prestigious European Research Starter Grant and four deceased members set to have their portraits painted.

Artist Vera Flute: “It is good that they get acknowledgment and they get it publicly. I think about my two daughters and it’s good to know that women get recognised for their achievements and that they will get recognition from it.”

Engaging with the artists and using their own research process as a core tool, we examine how the creative choices have been influenced by the lives of the subjects themselves and their families. Observing the development of each portrait, we uncover an artistic endeavour of huge resonance and historic significance as well as artistic importance.

Revealing the final pieces to both the subjects and their descendants, we capture the pride in the resulting artwork, the pride in the subject’s own achievements and the pride of all those involved in the placement of the paintings within Academy House.

“Ì am delighted to do this as it is a marker of a quantum shift in society. This would have been unthinkable in 1916 and absolutely unbelievable 100 years before that. So to have eight women clearly masters of their professions in a painting which is the traditional way to mark a great moment. It’s a huge privilege for me to be asked to do that,” said artist Blaise Smith.

Within this crafted documentary programme, an artistic endeavour is transformed into an event of national and international importance to create an accessible window into issues related to gender, representation and art, issues that are especially relevant in this decade of anniversaries.

 ‘Woman on Walls’ will explore the significance of the event to transform the documentary into a timely discussion about the role of women in STEM, and gender equality as a whole.

‘Women on Walls’ will broadcast on RTÉ One, Thursday 9th March at 10.15pm. 

Meet the women – First Females Admitted to the Royal Irish Academy

Sheila Tinney (1918 – 2010)
A pioneering academic in mathematical physics, Sheila Tinney was described by Nobel Laureate Erwin Schrödinger as ‘among the best equipped and most successful of the younger generation of physicists in this country’.

Françoise Henry (1934 – 1982)
Françoise Henry was one of the most important twentieth-century historians of Irish art. She trained at the École du Louvre and the Sorbonne, establishing herself as an expert on very early forms of sculptural decoration, particularly in Early Christian Irish Art.

Phyllis Clinch (1901 – 1984)
Award winning scientist Phyllis Clinch,was one of the greatest female inventors of her generation and world renowned for her innovative research into plant viruses.

Eleanor Knott (1886-1975)
Eleanor Knott was a "pathbreaking" researcher of classical Irish literature. Having taught herself to read modern Irish, she went on to study old Irish at the School of Irish Learning in Dublin and won a scholarship to continue her studies in 1907.

Group Portrait: Recipients of the European Research Council Starter Grants 2012 – 2015

Professor Sarah McCormack (TCD)

Professor McCormack’s research explores photovoltaic panels which convert solar energy into direct current electricity.

Professor Aoife McLysaght (TCD)

One of Ireland’s leading geneticists and was on the team that analysed the initial sequence of the human genome in 2001. She was also involved in a major discovery about how genes are formed.

Associate Professor Aoife Gowen (UCD)

Associate Professor, Aoife Gowen is an expert in hyperspectral imaging. Her ERC project Biowater, aims to uncover new knowledge 

Professor Lydia Lynch (TCD and Harvard)

Professor Lynch’s research has found that a type of anti-tumour immune cell protects against obesity and the metabolic syndrome that leads to diabetes.

Professor Debra Laefer (UCD)

Professor Laefer’s research aims to prevent damage to buildings above tunnel excavation, by developing a 3D modelling system that can predict what buildings are most likely to sustain damage during tunnelling.

Professor Emma Teeling (UCD)

Professor Teeling is a world authority on bat genetics. She studies bats for insights into human diseases such as blindness and deafness as well as ageing.

Dr Maria McNamara (UCC)

Dr McNamara and her team of researchers have made a landmark dinosaur discovery: designated ‘Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus’, it is the first example of a plant-eating dinosaur that had both scales and feathers.

Professor Catríona Lally (TCD)

Professor Lally is the principal investigator on a project focusing on developing a means of early diagnosis of degenerative cardiovascular diseases. These studies are highly relevant to stroke patients and those with vascular disease.




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