Women’s Aid

This event is proudly supporting Women’s Aid and the work they do in Ireland and the UK.
In lieu of an attendance fee we ask that you make a donation to them.

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'Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.'

International Women's Day has been running since 1911 and is a day where we celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness about women's equality and lobby for accelerated gender parity.

This year join all of the District Societies and the Diversity & Inclusion Committee on Monday 7 March for our second virtual International Women's Day Conference.

We bring you four interviews with four women who have each broken the bias in their lives, both personally and professionally.




Sinéad Donovan is the Vice president of Chartered Accountants Ireland and a financial accounting and advisory services partner at Grant Thornton.

Sinéad joined Grant Thornton in 2002 and was admitted to the partnership in 2005, becoming the first female partner. She is very experienced in co-ordinating international teams, with particular regard to central reporting on multiple jurisdictions in Irish headquarters and/or Shared Service Centres. She works closely with all the major Grant Thornton member firms across the world and manages some of the firm’s largest and complex international projects. Sinéad has extensive knowledge of Irish/UK GAAP, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and a working knowledge of US GAAP.

Sinéad’s client portfolio includes listed companies and mid-corporate clients spanning a range of sectors. She has significant knowledge of the telecoms and technology sector. Sinéad was instrumental in founding the Irish/US Group, which is a permanent department, consisting of an Irish directors based in the US. This link ensures a seamless service offering between the Irish and US firms to relevant clients.

Sinéad is a strong believer in the importance of Inclusion and Diversity to ensure a motivated, effective and equitable workplace. 



Marie Cassidy became a forensic pathologist in 1985 following her training as a histopathologist. She worked as a Consultant Forensic Pathologist in the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology in Glasgow for the next thirteen years investigating unnatural deaths and homicides, from gangland shootings and stabbings, to drugs deaths, road traffic accidents and suicides. In 1998 she returned to her family’s homeland of Ireland as deputy state pathologist, working alongside Professor Jack Harbison. When he retired, she was appointed State Pathologist and, like her predecessor, her name became synonymous with murder and tragedy. In over thirty years of practice she has performed thousands of postmortems and dealt with hundreds of murders. She has witnessed the burgeoning role of forensic science and the impact that has had on death investigation and the expectations of the general public, while embracing new technology and welcoming the input of experts in the other sciences. She retired at the end of 2018 to spend more time on the other passion in her life, her family.

Her memoir, Beyond The Tape (Hachette Ireland), a number one bestseller, was published in October 2020 and has been nominated for an Irish Book Award.



Rosemary Smith is a rally driver from Dublin.

In 2017, at 79 years of age she became the oldest person to drive a Renault Sports Formula One team car.

HarperCollins Publishers has acquired world all language rights to her autobiography, ‘Driven’, about the female motorsport pioneer who broke through the gender barrier to compete in and win some of the most iconic rallies in the world.

But Rosemary’s story is not all fast cars and marathon rallies. She writes with honesty about her early life, about a disastrous marriage, miscarriages and money troubles – and how she overcame it all.  Rosemary’s trailblazing passion and determination, and her defiance of gender and age stereotyping, make for a fascinating, timely and truly inspirational story.

Rosemary’s father taught her to drive at the age of 11 in a field in Tallaght. Leaving school at 15, Rosemary trained as a dress designer and model and opened a boutique dressmaking company. She was asked to navigate for a friend in a rally but soon took over the driving due to her inability to read a map.

She went on to drive in the Monte Carlo rally eight times. Rosemary won the Coupe des Dames on numerous occasions and competed in other iconic events all over the world. These included the London to Sydney in 1968, the World Cup London to Mexico in 1970 and the East African Safari Rally in the 1970s. In a Hillman Imp, Rosemary was the first and only woman driver to win the Tulip Rally outright, beating all the male drivers to the finish.

Rosemary is passionate about road safety and opened the Rosemary Smith School of Motoring in 1999 where she teaches young people to drive.



Head of Business Diversity Mark - the awarding authority on Diversity and Inclusion across the UK and Ireland. Nuala has been described by the Irish Times as “one of the next generation of female business leaders in the North.”

A community builder and connector by nature, Nuala has been an impassioned advocate for women’s equality with a deep commitment to creating workplaces where every person has a seat at the table and a chance to be heard.  With a deep expertise in D&I issues and experience building communities that empower and connect people across differences. 

As a diversity and inclusion leader and President of the lean in Belfast Network and President Elect of Lean In UK & Ireland Council, Nuala has led and scaled the Lean In movement across Ireland for more than 7 years, a global community of women who led grassroots groups in countries like Iraq, India, and the United States, which bolstered her ability to work across cultures and race. She led conversations with Sheryl Sandberg in London and then Dublin in front of an audience of thousands and was selected by Lean In to come to Silicon Valley as a leader who had shown outstanding promise and commitment to women. Through this experience, Nuala has gained insights into the working culture of companies rooted in Silicon Valley and developed her wider D&I skillset on a global scale. 

During her almost 20 years of experience in the corporate world, Nuala has sought out opportunities to support employees from different backgrounds and walks of life. She developed an app to support pregnant women and new mothers with anxiety to support their mental health, with special attention paid to the challenges faced by mothers of minority groups. Nuala has led corporate partnerships with global companies to enhance the private sector’s support for women leaders. And has an expertise in marketing that enables her to communicate clearly about both the challenges and the solutions within D&I work.



Patricia Barker is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, having qualified in 1973 – the twentieth woman to qualify since the inception of the Institute in 1888.  She completed an MPhil in Equality Studies Trinity College.  She holds a diploma in Counselling from Maynooth University.  Her PhD developed a paradigm of disclosure of financial information to employees in Public Interest Entities.
She served her articles with Stokes Bros. & Pim in Dublin\(now KPMG) and worked in Peat, Marwick Mitchell in Manchester.  She then became a partner in an accounting practice in Manchester for six years and worked in Manchester University as a principal lecturer.  She returned to Dublin and was appointed lecturer in DCU in 1980 and progressed through senior lecturer, Associate Dean (Business School) and Vice-President (Academic) of DCU. She was awarded the professorship in Accounting and Finance in 2000.  She currently is an adjunct professor in Business Ethics in DCU.  She has published extensively in the areas of Financial Reporting, Women in the Professions, Business Ethics and Corporate Governance.

She has worked as a visiting professor in universities in New York, Boston, Angers, Malawi, Dar es Salaam, Sydney and Cape Town and has been an external examiner for universities and professional bodies.

She served as Chairman of Chartered Accountant Ireland’s Financial Accounting Committee for twenty one years.  She served two terms as a Council Member of Chartered Accountants Ireland, chairing the Education Board and is currently a member of the Institute’s Ethics and Governance Committee.  She was a member of the Urgent Issues Task Force in London for nine years.
She has had several tours of duty as Election Supervisor for the OSCE and EU in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Republica Serpska, South Africa, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Malawi and Belarus.    She chaired the expert group reporting to the European Union on the role, structure and functions of the European Court of Auditors.

She has been a member of the Boards of Women’s Aid, Sonas Housing Association, the National Chamber Choir and was the Chairman of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service for three years.  She was a member of the Higher Education Authority and chaired its Audit Committee.  She was a member of the Board of Dublin Bus, and currently is a Director of  Tallaght Hospital, the Marine Institute Ltd and ETBI, chairing their Audit Committees. Additionally, she served as a member of the Audit Committees of the HSE and The Courts Service.  She is currently a counsellor for the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and is a trainer of volunteer counsellors in the DRCC.  She chairs the Board of Trustees of the Malawi Girls Education Fund.

She is married to Robert Barker, retired partner in KPMG and they have two grown-up children and two grandchildren.  Her interests are sailing, long distance walking, reading and theatre.



Following an accident when Eimear was 17, she became involved with para sport originally through Irish Wheelchair Association Sport and later with Paralympics Ireland. She competed in an array of sport both nationally and internationally including athletics and wheelchair rugby until settling on table tennis as my choice of sport.

Eimear competed in her first World Championships in Taiwan in 2002 and went on to compete in the 2006 World Championships in Switzerland before finally qualifying to compete at her first Paralympic Games in Beijing. After competing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games Eimear decided it was time to step away from competing and to focus on helping others achieve their sporting goals.

After retiring she was appointed to the Athlete’s Commission and elected chair of the commission.

In 2015 Eimear was co-opted to the position as vice president of Paralympics Ireland and formally elected at the 2016 AGM. She held the position of Vice President until she was elected to the role of President at our 2021 AGM. The role of President is both rewarding and challenging.

During her sporting career Eimear completed a Bachelor of Commerce honours Degree UCD and went to work with FBD Insurance for 11 years. She then completed her ACII qualification. After leaving FBD she completed a Certificate in Physical Fitness and Conditioning in Sport and a Diploma in Social Media Marketing. Eimear worked for a short while in her own fitness business which was challenging and eye opening before joining a skincare company for 3 years where she looked after the social media marketing for the company. Eimear recently completed the Sport Ireland Governance in Sport level 9 qualification and also completed the Sport Ireland Women in Sport Leadership