How Can We Banish Gender Stereotypes from Society?

This is the first of five events in The Solutions Series, taking place as part of the 2020 WorkEqual campaign.

The event will be introduced by Sonya Lennon, founder of the WorkEqual campaign.

Mark Paul, Business Affairs Correspondent with The Irish Times, will then MC a panel discussion on how to banish gender stereotypes across different societal sectors, including the education sector, the media and in the workplace. Our panel will be comprised of:

  • Prof. Karen Boyle, Professor of Feminist Media Studies and Programme Director for the MSc in Applied Gender Studies at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.
  • Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan, winners of the 2020 BT Young Scientist for their ground-breaking research on gender bias in young schoolchildren.
  • Anne Looney, Professor and Executive Dean of the Institute of Education at Dublin City University.


05 Nov 2020


1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

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  • Cormac Harris & Alan O'Sullivan
    Cormac Harris & Alan O'Sullivan
    Winners of the 2020 BT Young Scientist Award

    Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan are Fifth Year students at Coláiste Choilm in Ballincollig in Cork. They won the overall prize at the 2020 BT Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition for their groundbreaking research on gender bias in young schoolchildren.

    For their project, they set out to determine how early gender stereotyping could be identified – by conducting workshops with almost 400 five to seven-year-olds from a range of school settings. They asked the young children to complete tasks such as drawing and naming an engineer, and rating male and female competency at a number of gender-specific roles. One striking finding of their research was that 90% of boys drew a male engineer, while just over 50% of girls drew a female engineer.

    The BT Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition judges pointed to the fact that their research “indicates that gender stereotypes emerge in young children and they are particularly strong among boys” – a finding deemed particularly important as interventions typically focus on girls.

    Cormac and Alan developed what the competition judges described as “an impressive education programme” to counter gender stereotyping in response to their findings. This included resources for primary-school teachers to combat gender stereotyping among young children.

  • Mark Paul
    Mark Paul
    Business Affairs Correspondent with The Irish Times

    Mark Paul is a columnist and also the Business Affairs Correspondent at The Irish Times. He writes the weekly Caveat column on the business back-page each Friday. He has also written extensively about issues such as female representation in boardrooms and at senior executive level in Irish business, and the drive to increase paternity leave and shared parental leave rights, and how this could affect workplace gender equality.

  • Professor Anne Looney
    Professor Anne Looney
    Executive Dean of Dublin City University’s Institute of Education

    Anne Looney is the Executive Dean of Dublin City University’s Institute of Education, Ireland’s largest faculty of education. From 2001 until 2016 she was the CEO of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the agency responsible for curriculum and assessment for early years, primary and post-primary education in Ireland. She also held the position of Interim CEO at the Higher Education Authority until March 2017.
    A former teacher, she completed her doctoral studies at the Institute of Education in University College London. In 2014/2015 she was Professorial Research Fellow at the Learning Science Institute Australia, based at Australian Catholic University in Brisbane.
    Her current research interests include assessment policy and practice, curriculum, teacher identity and professional standards for teachers and teaching. She has also published on religious, moral and civic education, and education policy. She chaired the task force on gender-based violence in higher education institutions in Ireland, and is an advisor to the Gender Awareness and Transformation through Education (GATE) project at the University of Dar es Salaam. She has conducted reviews for the OECD on school quality and assessment systems, and is a member of the International Advisory Group for the review of curriculum and assessment in Wales.
    She is a member of the boards of Early Childhood Ireland, and the Ark Cultural Centre for Children and the President of the International Professional Development Association.

  • Professor Karen Boyle
    Professor Karen Boyle
    Professor of Feminist Media Studies and Programme Director for Applied Gender Studies at the University of Strathclyde

    Karen Boyle is Professor of Feminist Media Studies and Programme Director for Applied Gender Studies at the University of Strathclyde. Her main research interests relate to gender, violence and representation. She is the author of #MeToo, Weinstein and Feminism (Palgrave 2019) and is currently editing the Routledge Companion to Gender, Media and Violence (with Susan Berridge 2022). Karen is one of the co-founders of Gender Equal Media Scotland, a grouping of third sector feminist and equalities organisations, academics and media professionals that works to highlight issues of inequality and work towards more equal representation in Scottish media. She is the Scottish coordinator of the Global Media Monitoring Project and is currently overseeing research focusing on women of colour in Scotland’s news media.

  • Sonya Lennon
    Sonya Lennon
    WorkEqual campaing founder

    Sonya Lennon has thirty years’ experience in business as a creative director, designer, broadcaster, entrepreneur and strategic consultant. A multi award winning Social Entrepreneur, Sonya founded global not for profit initiative Dress for Success in Ireland seven years ago and has successfully supported over 3,000 women into employment and economic independence.

    Through her advocacy work, she has campaigned at a European level for equality in the workplace for women by addressing the Gender Pay & Opportunity Gap.

    Her womenswear brand Lennon Courtney, now sells Internationally through a licensing agreement with Dunnes Stores and has seen exponential growth. Sonya is a founder and board member of LIFT Ireland, Leading Ireland’s Future Together who’s mission is to improve the levels of leadership in Ireland by reaching 10% of the population with its roundtable model.

    Sonya is solution focussed, iterative and innovative but always grounded by a value in human relationships and understanding how to unpick and maximise the potential of business and people.
    Her podcast with business partner Brendan Courtney, Lennon Courtney Left Alone tackles big issues like Money, Age, Purpose and Love. It is a window into a world of conversations they have when they’re left alone.