TUS Athlone PhD candidate puts spotlight on leading Irish women in Sports Science

TUS Athlone PhD candidate Cherianne Taim has put the spotlight on leading Irish women in Sports Science with her novel publication entitled ‘Women in Sports Science: A Profile of Leading Irish Researchers’. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile.

TUS Athlone PhD candidate Cherianne Taim has put the spotlight on leading Irish women in Sports Science with her novel publication entitled ‘Women in Sports Science: A Profile of Leading Irish Researchers’. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile.

A novel publication entitled ‘Women in Sports Science: A Profile of Leading Irish Researchers’ has launched, aiming to shine a light on the achievements of female researchers in sports science and narrow the gender gap in sports science research, a traditionally male-dominated field.

Developed by Cherianne Taim, a PhD candidate within SHE Research at Technological University of the Shannon (TUS ), Athlone Campus, the publication features interviews with 22 female researchers in Ireland, both north and south, showcasing their achievements and diverse disciplines within sports science research.

Cherianne called it a “passion project” and expressed her hopes that the publication, which is “filled with stories of resilience, wisdom and sheer brilliance”, would inspire young girls and women aspiring to pursue careers in the field.

“Over the past three years of my PhD journey, I have had the privilege of collaborating with exceptional Irish women in sport - athletes, practitioners, academics/researchers, and administrators.

“The talent, passion and dedication I’ve witnessed among these female trailblazers are truly awe-inspiring. Yet, I remain aware of the gender disparities that continue to exist within our field.

“This booklet is a testament and celebration of the remarkable accomplishments of Irish women researchers in the field of sports science. It is our hope that this booklet will serve as a source of inspiration and encouragement for young girls and women who aspire to carve a meaningful career in sport science,” she said.

Among the women profiled are Dr Áine MacNamara, an elite performance professor at DCU’s School of Health and Human Performance and Dr Carla McCabe, a lecturer in sport and exercise biomechanics from Ulster University, who share their “a-ha” moments of what inspired them to pursue their respective career paths.

“Cherianne’s project highlights the sheer volume of female researchers in Ireland working in sports science, physical activity, and health – we both work directly in the space on a day-to-day basis but may not be aware of the fantastic work being completed outside of our own discipline. It really highlighted the need for increased visibility of female researchers, because we know to be it, you need to see it,” Dr Niamh Ní Chéilleachair, an expert in performance physiology within SHE Research and PhD supervisor, stated.

Drawing from her own experience of being one of the first female sport physiologists in her home country of Singapore at the age of just 23, Cherianne emphasised the importance of there being strong role models to look up to in academia to help young women navigate challenges.

The publication also addresses gender balance in sports research, noting that female-led research has been shown to produce higher quality work on female topics.

According to Dr Ní Chéilleachair, Cherianne’s PhD work which focuses on real-world applications with world-class athletes through Sport Ireland, has already made “a significant impact”.

“Cherianne is soon coming to the end of her PhD with us at TUS Athlone and her PhD work, which has been highly applied and translational, focusing on how to take research from paper and apply it in a real-world setting with world-class athletes, has had such a significant impact and we’re extremely proud of all she has achieved,” she said.

The ‘Women in Sports Science: A Profile of Leading Irish Researchers’ publication, which launched at the Professional Women in Sport, Exercise, Physical Activity and Health Network event in Cavan last week, provides a timely platform for discussion on gender inequality in the field and inspiring the next generation of talent.

Dr Aoife Lane, head of the Department, Sport and Health Sciences at TUS Athlone and SHE Research lead, said the publication is significant in its potential to bring together women in the field and help to create a community of practice.

“Cherianne’s publication sets out to improve the pipeline of female talent and leaders in sport and STEM careers and has significant potential to provide opportunities for female undergraduate students to connect with and be mentored by women thriving in STEM fields as well as for those researchers to connect with each other and collaborate, creating a community of practice,” she explained.

Dr Lane, who wrote the foreword for the publication, said she was delighted to support this “important celebration of women in sports science research” and called it a “timely collective reminder” of the great work being carried out by female researchers in Ireland across the many disciplines of sports science - from physiology and biomechanics to psychology and social sciences.

‘Women in Sports Science: A Profile of Leading Irish Researchers’ is funded by the N-TUTORR Students as Partners in Innovation and Change Fellowships Programme 2023-2024 and is available for download at sheresearch.ie

 

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