A Champion of Women in STEM Prof. Ita Richardson Appointed Deputy Director, Lero.

28th February 2024

Posted In: Be In The Frame

Professor Ita Richardson has been appointed Deputy Director of Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software.

A leading champion of Women in STEM, Ita Richardson is Professor of Software Quality in the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems at University of Limerick.

She will be the first woman to hold the role of Deputy Director of Lero since its foundation in 2005.

Prof. Richardson is an internationally recognised researcher in global software development and connected health. Lero’s Director, Prof. Lionel Briand, who started in his new role in January, said he is delighted that a renowned researcher of Prof. Richardson’s calibre has taken on this leadership role in the centre.

“Prof. Richardson has and will continue to play a key role as Lero develops the world’s best tech talent and leaders of tomorrow. Irish IT specialists are among the best educated in the EU – 78% have a third-level qualification – the EU average is 61%.

Prof. Richardson has played a crucial role in enhancing Ireland’s software talent pipeline. She is dedicated to engaging people in STEM and software education, from primary school to PhDs.

She has and continues to contribute to Lero building critical software skills for Ireland’s future workforce,” he said.

“Prof. Richardson has been part of Lero since its foundation and will play a crucial function leading software research teams who continue to support academia, industry, the public sector and society in general,” Prof. Briand added.

Prof. Richardson said that Lero has been an important part of her academic career to date allowing her to build national and international research relationships.

“I have seen the benefits of being part of a strong, internationally-recognised research centre and learned from those who have gone before me. I want to support researchers and students, particularly those starting their careers, ensuring they benefit from being part of Lero,” said Prof. Richardson, who will continue in her role as Co-Principal Investigator in Lero.

Dr Siobhan Roche, Director of Science for the Economy at SFI, welcomed the announcement, saying:

“Professor Richardson’s appointment as Deputy Director of Lero, demonstrates that women’s representation in leadership roles on SFI Grants is growing.

With the publication of SFI’s External Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy 2023-2028, we remain committed to increasing the representation of researchers who identify as women in leadership roles through an intersectional approach, in keeping with the Agency’s values and international best practice. I congratulate Professor Richardson, who will bring the wealth of her experience to the role.” 

Prof. Richardson is passionate about introducing women to exciting careers in STEM, particularly in software engineering and computer science and recalled her introduction to computing at the age of 12, when maths teacher Sr Concepta Murtagh, introduced her class at Loreto Convent Mullingar, Co Westmeath to computer programming.

“Sr Concepta forged links with ICL (International Computers Limited) in the UK. We would write out our programs. She printed them out on ‘green striped’ computer paper – it was fascinating. So, when a new course started in UL – NIHE Limerick, as it was then – focused on maths and computing, it was my top choice on the CAO form,” she added.

“I believe that girls and women should be given equal opportunity to fulfil their capabilities and interests, and it is imperative that we as educators encourage them to see the global importance of software.

“Software is all around us, in hospitals, transport, schools, farming, banking, music – and Ireland needs educated people to support its development.  Much of the outreach that I do is to encourage young women to consider the STEM options, to look around them, and to think outside the box,” added Prof. Richardson, who started her education in St Ernan’s National School, Delvin, Co Westmeath.

Pictured: Prof. Ita Richardson, Deputy Director of Lero with Prof. Philip Nolan, Taighde Éireann CEO-Designate. (Image – Alan Place).