The Irish Federation of University Women


IrFUW 2019 Conference 18th and 19th October TCD

Trinity Women Graduates was delighted to host the 2019 Irish Federation of University Women Annual Conference in Trinity College Dublin on October 18 and 19. The theme was Hearing Women’s Voices and we had some amazing women sharing their experience and research with us over the weekend.

Event photo gallery

IrFUW Annual Conference Dinner and Panel Discussions

The IrFUW Annual Conference hosted by TWG this year was a great success with the dinner on Saturday night 18th October a sell out and with a wonderful after dinner speech by Sharon Bowers on #hearingwomensvoices in literature.  A highlight in the afternoon on Friday was a guided tour with incredible insights from Architect Valerie Mulvin who brought the group behind the scenes and talked about the design considerations and challenges McCulloughMulvin Architects had to contend with in the design of the various buildings in Trinity they were commissioned to work on. Thanks to Sandra O’Connell for arranging this.

The panel discussions on Saturday 19th sparked a lot of discussion, debate and determination to act. Frances Fitzgerald MEP was the keynote speaker on Saturday and was inspiring on the topic of hearing women’s voices especially in politics and civil engagement. Equality benefits everyone she said. The five Cs have been quoted often as the barriers that get in the way of women’s leadership and progress she said and they stand for Cash, Confidence, Culture, Childcare and Candidate selection. She talked about the need for consistency and to be continually focussing on follow-up.  Frances remembered her days as a social worker where she said issues would often appear long before they became political issues, in particular she recalled the Hepatitis C cases. She talked about the need to maintain momentum when it comes to women’s roles in society and power structures and recalled how the key legal and justice posts a few years ago such as Chief State Solicitor, DPP and Attorney General were all held by women and how this was remarked upon at the time. However this did not last and many of the roles were eventually replaced by men.

Women’s voices are always relevant  she said and she believed women needed to have confidence in their own voices which is not always as easy as it seems. Context she said was particularly important and that she always asks herself ‘am I saying enough’.  Continuity and follow up are important she said.  Attaining Critical Mass was vital and she remarked that the European Parliament is now 40% women and the that there is a different feel to the atmosphere because of it. Empowering women to be leaders in all aspects of life brings about extraordinary results.  Changing the system to suit women as well as men was vital she said, otherwise women are walking in shoes made for someone else.

In response to a question from Mary Morrissey on how to get younger women involved in women graduate organisations, Frances Fitzgerald said that we needed to be relevant to the membership and to work at the issues women cared about. especially younger women.

Dr Anne Nègre President UWE on the Gender Pay Gap Collective Complaint

Frances Fitzgerald stayed on to hear Dr Anne Nègre President of UWE talk about the Gender Pay Gap and a lively discussion followed. Anne Nègre spoke about her work on behalf of all of the European women graduates organisations. She gave a detailed presentation about the Collective Complaint UWE is making to the Council of Europe and she called on the Irish government to support it. Frances Fitzgerald was very interested in what Anne had to say and agreed to assist in whatever way she could. Jennifer McCarthy Flynn who is Policy Officer with the National Women’s Council of Ireland joined the panel on the discussion and talked about the longer term consequences for women if the gender pay gap is not eradicated. The effect on pensions is enormous. However if the gender pay-gap is to be eradicated better childcare provision and elder care provision needs to be dramatically improved.

Brid Horan on Balance for Better Business

The second panel discussed the role and necessity of women in management. Prof Deirdre Ahern TCD School of Law talked about her work with Dr Tanusree Jain of the TCD Business School on the contribution of women to boards in Ireland and in India. Brid Horan, Co Chair of the Balance For Better Business government initiative, made a fascinating presentation on the statistics in Ireland. Brid Horan asked those present to support through action on social media to keep the pressure on companies to become more gender balanced and diverse which she said has been proven to make business sense. She also mentioned some companies who were making efforts and others who were not or at least could do better. Brid said we need to start young to avoid stereotyping little girls with too much pink. private sector companies and major brands are now aligned with the 30%club ideals of balanced leadership. It is not a club for women but a support network to reach better balance in business.

Brid Horan also shared her own story and talked about how her husband initially encouraged her to go for the role of Deputy Chief Executive of the ESB  when she worked there, a post she held there and really made a difference. Prof Martha O’Hagan Luff of TCD Business School, joined the panel and talked about how her own talented young women students sometimes lacked the confidence of the young male students even though they often attained higher marks and were good performers. 
In the after lunch sessions ‘Lucia her Time is Now’ was presented by artists Frances Mezzetti and Joyce Garvey on Lucia Joyce as an inspiration for their work.  Rachel Skelly Graduate Consult Intern did a mini workshop on consent to show how it worked and she was fantastic.  Patricia Murphy from Student Counselling also spoke briefly about how the programme works. TWG has committed to supporting these workshops for hard to reach students for the next three years.
Overall the conference was a great success. Having the event in the Long Room Hub was a particular advantage and we thank the TLRHub and especially prof Deirdre Ahern and the Law School for assisting us with the facility. Trinity Catering also did a great job.

Lucia Joyce Her Time is Now

Frances Mezzetti

Programme Friday 18th October

3pm to 4.30pm Casual drop in for tea or coffee, Alumni Room, East Chapel
3.30pm Architectural tour of Trinity College buildings with Architect Valerie Mulvin
5.30pmRegistration for dinner at Trinity City Hotel, Pearse Street, Dublin 2
6.30pmProsecco reception in the Piano Lounge, Trinity City Hotel
7pmThe Notabelles, ladies barber shop chorus singing a capello style
7.30pmSeating for dinner
7.50pmOfficial conference opening remarks – Frances Patton, President, IrFUW
8pmDinner service, 3 course meal with wine/soft drink
10pm approxAfter dinner speech, Sharon Bowers, New York and Dublin literary agent
on “Heard and unheard voices of women in literature”

Saturday 19th October Conference Line Up

9.30amSaturday Registration, Long Room Hub, Trinity College
Tea and coffee on arrival
9.50amOpening remarks and welcome, Angie Mezzetti, President,TWG
10amA Voice for Women in Europe – Keynote address, Frances Fitzgerald, MEP
10.30am“Equal Pay Now!” – Collective Complaints
Anne Nègre , President, University Women of Europe
Collective Complaints for Equal Pay
Followed by Q&A panel with Frances Fitzgerald, Anne Nègre
and Jennifer McCarthy, Head of Policy, National Women’s Council of Ireland
11.45amBreak for refreshments – tea, coffee, juice, water
12pm Hearing Women in Business Presentation
Prof Deirdre Ahern TCD Law Department on measures to improve
numbers of Women on Boards and initiatives in Ireland and India.
12.30pm Hearing Women’s Voices in Irish Boardrooms
Presentation by Brid Horan Co Chair of Government’s Balance for Better Business
Followed by panel discussion with Martha O’Hagan Luff TCD Business School,
chaired by Deirdre Ahern
1pmLunch break, Second Floor Trinity Long Room Hub
1.30pm Lucia Joyce – Her Time Is Now. Joyce Garvey & Frances Mezzetti
Presentation including short video of Performance Art
about giving voice to Lucia Joyce – Dancer, Costume Designer
(daughter of Nora and James Joyce).
2pmSexual Consent Workshops. Presentation by Tricia Murphy, TCD Student
Counselling Services, on the Consent Workshops
supported by TWG.
2.30pm IrFUW Council Meeting Chaired by Frances Patton
3.30pmConference close

IrFUW Fundraising Event and IrFUW Triennial Meeting 

Saturday 25th May –  2019 Fundraising Event “Inspiring Dreams” Location United Arts Club, 3 Fitzwilliam St Upper, Dublin 2  –  10am – 4pm  –

Hear from internationally renowned fashion designer Peter O’Brien and Anne Tannam Poet and Creative Coach

Members €45, Non-Members €50 (€5 reduction if paid by 28/04/19)   –  for updates see  

This will be followed by the IrFUW Triennial Meeting, including Handover of IrFUW Presidency and Council.


Membership of Trinity Women Graduates includes membership of the Irish Federation of University Women (IrFUW), Founded 1924, linking Trinity Women Graduates with women graduate associations in University College Dublin, NUI Galway, and Queen’s University Belfast.

The purpose of The Irish Federation of University Women is to bring together women graduates in Ireland to uphold the aims of Graduate Women International of which it is a constituent member.

Graduate Women International is a leading girls’ and women’s global organisation run by and for women, to promote women’s rights, equality and empowerment through access to quality education and training up to the highest levels.

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