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Women of Influence

I live in a country where two of the most powerful Presidents in recent years have been women.

I also live in a country where almost all of the top legal jobs are held by women – the Chief Justice, Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In the tech sector women have been making significant in-roads at the very top – led by high profile global female leaders like Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook – but also here at home.

I live in an Ireland where women are finding new routes, such as accountancy, to positions of influence within organisations.

But I also live in a country where women are still woefully underrepresented in the corridors of power.

The same country that elected two women Presidents boasts only 26 female TDs out of a total of 166 in Dáil Éireann – one of the lowest in Europe at less than half the average. Only one woman, Mary Harney, has ever got close to political leadership, serving as Tánaiste for a decade before standing down in 2006. It is also a country that hasn’t changed much over the past decade and that’s something we need to change.

I live in a country where only a handful of board places in our largest companies are held by women and which lags significantly below the European average.

There are 51 companies listed on the Irish Stock Exchange and last year the appointment of Siobhán Talbot as the new MD of Glanbia received headline news – because she was only the second woman to head up a listed company in Ireland.

There are many women women who have blazed a trail and who broke new ground for others to follow – and I’m fortunate to count many as my friends.

We need to ask ourselves the question – how can a country who broke the mould in electing two female Presidents in succession – create an environment where we will see a woman as Taoiseach in our lifetime?

Norah Casey