A Friendly Chat with One of Ireland’s Top Science Educators: Dr. Aoibhinn ni Shuilleabhain イーヴィーン・ニ・スーラウォーンさん(ユニバーシティ・カレッジ・ダブリン講師)

2017年11月28日、アイルランド・日本外交関係樹立60周年記念事業 総合政策学部開設記念連続講演会「課題解決に取り組む女性たち」において、「女性科学者とジェンダーギャップーアイルランド人の視点からー」と題した講演をされたイ?ヴィーン・ニ・スーラウォーン氏(ユニバーシティ・カレッジ・ダブリン講師 )に、総合政策学部のガヴァン・グレイ准教授と学生たちがインタビューしました。

Last week a small group of first year students had a chance to speak with one of the guest speakers for our ‘Women in Leadership’ Symposium at the College of Policy Studies. Dr. Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain, of University College Dublin, is one of Ireland’s top academics in the area of Math and Science and recently she won a major award for promoting learning in STEM fields. She was speaking at the Symposium about why it is so important for more women to enter scientific fields but before that we had a chance to ask her some of our own questions.
Later, during the Symposium, we heard from Ireland’s Ambassador that while Ireland ranks 8th in the world in Gender Equality, Japan is 14th! However, the Ambassador felt that even Ireland still needed to improve its rank. We asked Dr. Ni Shuilleabhain how she thought this could be done and she replied that many areas, such as science, are still dominated by men and that these imbalances can have a big impact on society.
When she was studying at university she noticed that very few other girls had entered her field (Theoretical Physics) but she knew that there were many women, just like her, who were quite skilled at these subjects. She became concerned that girls were avoiding Math and Science not because they were not skilled but they were getting negative messages that told them such careers would not suit them. She feels the situation is like the way toy shops split their goods clearly into boys and girls sections and suggest that some toys (careers) are suitable only for boys and girls should just do the things they are suited for.
She feels that Education is one of the most effective ways to change these patterns because it can reshape the perspectives of young people. The role of the teacher is a key point in this and she believes that teachers have to be aware of the individual needs of their students and able to inspire them to follow their personal interests. Giving students this kind of support and guidance is what gives her the most satisfaction in her job and what motivates her to work even harder.
Regarding young students, she thinks that understanding others by developing your communication skills and awareness of emotions and psychology, is one of the most useful skills that you can gain. While we felt that Dr. Ni Shuilleabhain had a natural talent as a public speaker she said that everyone feels nervous when speaking to a new group and she advised us that when we have to speak in public we should choose a ‘theme song’ to play in our head to boost our spirits, or to let cold water run over our wrists for a minute before we go out to speak. Dr. Ni Shuilleabhain believes the most important thing young women can do is to speak out with confidence and make sure their voices are heard about the important issues in society. Thanks to her good advice and shining example, this is something we will try our best to do in the future.
We want to extend our sincere thanks to Dr. Ni Shuilleabhain for giving us the opportunity to speak to her and ask so many different questions (including many we did not have the space to mention here).

(The participants were: Sato Sumire, Yoshino Mayuno, Kuriki Yukari, Shioda Koyuki, Agata Misaki, Yoshida Mei, Yamada Akino, and Tonegi Nozomi)