IWD Virtual Tour

A map of the UCD campus marking Schools and Colleges

Discover inspiring UCD alumnae and follow in their footsteps

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Breaking the Bias,’ and throughout UCD’s history our alumni have been breaking the bias in their studies, careers and fields. 

Take a tour of the Schools and Colleges of UCD’s Belfield campus to learn more about some of these remarkable women and their achievements which span law, medicine, politics and sport. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a snapshot of some of the ways our alumni have broken down barriers over the years.

1. UCD Sutherland School of Law

Sarah Keane

BCL 1995

  • Elected President of the Olympic Federation of Ireland in 2017 and reappointed in 2020
  • CEO of Swim Ireland
  • Government appointee to the Central Bank Commission

Aedamar Comiskey

BCL 1988

  • Recognised in City AM’s Power 100 Women List
  • Became law firm Linklater’s first female Senior Partner in its 183-year history in May 2021
  • A leading public and private M&A lawyer, Aedamar leads the Firm’s relationship with seven large international clients, including HSBC, Visa, Capita and Tate & Lyle, for whom she is a trusted Board adviser

Síofra O’Leary

BCL 1989

  • Elected Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in late 2021, Judge O’Leary had served as a Ireland’s judge at the ECtHR from 2015 – 2021
  • Prior to joining the ECtHR, Judge O’Leary worked for almost two decades at the Court of Justice of the European Union
  • Visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges
  • Member of the Advisory Boards of the Common Market Law Review and the Irish Centre for European Law

Kathleen Phelan and Mary Ita

  • The first two UCD female graduates to be called to the Bar of Ireland in 1927

2. UCD Lochlann Quinn School of Business

Gina Quin

BA 1980, MBA 1988

  •  Quin started her career with Lansdowne Market Research as a qualitative researcher before moving to the Irish Trade Board and then the Rehab Group in 1989
  • CEO of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, 2000 to 2016
  • President of the National College of Ireland since 2016

Joan Burton

BComm 1970

  • Former Irish Labour Party politician who served as Tánaiste and Leader of the Labour Party from 2014 to 2016
  • Minister for Social Protection from 2011 to 2016
  • Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2014
  • Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1994 to 1997
  • Minister of State at the Department of Social Welfare from 1993 to 1994
  • Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin West constituency from 1992 to 1997 and 2002 to 2020

Emily Logan

MBA 2002

  • Appointed to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in February 2021
  • Served as Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (2014 to 2019)
  • Ireland’s first Ombudsman for Children (2003 to 2014)
  • Over twenty years management experience in Ireland and in the UK, including Director of Nursing at Crumlin Children’s Hospital and Director of Nursing at Tallaght University Hospital

3. UCD Engineering Building

Prof Orla Feely

BE 1986

  • Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact and a Professor of Electronic Engineering at University College Dublin
  • Prof Feely holds a BE degree from University College Dublin and MS and PhD degrees from the University of California, Berkeley
  • While at UC Berkeley, she also won the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award
  • The first Irish woman elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

4. UCD Newman Building

Frances Fitzgerald MEP


  • Accomplished parliamentarian and former social worker
  • Frances is currently MEP for Dublin City and County
  • Having held various government portfolios in her career, in 2016 she became one of only four women to ever have held the office of Tánaiste

Her Excellency, Ms Anne Anderson

BA 1971

  • 17th Ambassador of Ireland to the United States
  • A career diplomat, she also served as Ireland’s representative to the United Nations, the European Union, France and Monaco, the first woman to hold each of these positions

Emily O’Reilly

BA 1979

  • A highly respected former political editor, author and broadcaster, winning two awards as a journalist
  • Ireland’s first female Ombudsman and Information Commissioner in 2003
  • Elected as European Ombudsman in 2003

Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan

BA 1970

  • First female auditor of UCD’s Literary and History Society, from 1970 to 1971
  • Appointed to the High Court in 2002
  • Appointed judge in the Supreme Court of Ireland in 2017

Professor Pat O’Connor

BSocSc 1970

  • A researcher and gender equality expert
  • Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Limerick and Visiting Professor at the Geary Institute at UCD
  • In 1997 Prof O’Connor became the first woman to be promoted to full professorial level at the University of Limerick 
  • Appointed the first woman Dean at the University and Ireland’s first professor of Sociology

5. UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science

Mairéad McGuinness

BAgrSc 1980

  • Irish politician serving as the European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union since October 2020
  • McGuinness previously served as First Vice-President of the European Parliament from 2017 to 2020 and is Ireland’s longest serving MEP
  • In 1980 she was the first woman to qualify with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Economics from University College Dublin

Her Excellency, Ms Fionnuala Gilsenan

MSc (Agr) Rural Development 1995

  • Ambassador of Ireland to the Republic of South Africa.
  • Following her graduation, she joined Trócaire, where she worked on partnerships in India, the Philippines and Timor Leste between 1995 to 2000
  • Within the Department of Foreign Affairs she has worked extensively on African Affairs, most recently as Africa Director (2016-2019) and has served as Ambassador to the Republic of Tanzania (2012-2016) and Deputy Head of Mission in Ethiopia (2006-2008).

Zoë Kavanagh

BAgrSc 1994

  • CEO of the National Dairy Council, where she has been instrumental in marketing and promoting the Irish dairy category at home and abroad.
  • Ireland is uniquely positioned to leverage its sustainable pasture-based system and quality standards. Ms. Kavanagh brings to the Dairy sector a unique level of commercial and marketing experience spanning the Brand, Consumer and Foodservice sectors.

Dr Gillian Phelan

PhD Agricultural Economics 2004

  • Appointed as the Head of Monetary Policy at the Central Bank of Ireland in 2014, having previously held senior roles in the areas of Statistics and Financial Stability.
  • Represents the Bank on range of international committees including the Monetary Policy Committee at the ECB.

6. O'Brien Centre for Science

Prof Dervilla Donnelly

BSc 1952

  • Appointed lecturer in Chemistry at UCD in 1956, where she specialised in Phytochemistry, later applying her research to the Irish forestry industry
  • The first woman elected as President of the Royal Dublin Society after 258 years of male presidents at the philanthropic organisation

Dr Sheila Tinney

BA 1938

  • The first Irish woman to receive a PhD in Maths
  • This “trail-blazing and brilliant academic” worked in UCD as an academic and was a mathematical physicist
  • One of the first four women admitted to the Royal Irish Academy
  • UCD unveiled a plaque in her honour in 2018

Prof Emma Teeling

BSc 1995

  • Highly decorated for her pioneering work studying bats
  • Elected to Ireland’s Royal Irish Academy, in 2016
  • Founded the Laboratory of Molecular Evolution and Mammalian Phylogenetics known as the “BatLab at UCD in 2005, and the Centre for Irish Bat Research in 2008

7. UCD School of Veterinary Medicine

Dr Ann Derwin

MVB 1986

  • Starting out in veterinary practice, Dr Derwin joined the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine in 1992
  • Since then she has worked as Agriculture Attaché in Madrid before becoming Chief Economist
  • Appointed Assistant Secretary in 2016, becoming the first woman to serve on the Management Board of that department

8. UCD Health Sciences Building

Dr Rhona Mahony

MB BcH BAO 1994, MD 2005

  • UCD Alumni Awardee in Science, 2018
  • The first female master since the foundation of the National Maternity hospital in 1894
  • Dr Rhona Mahony oversees one of Europe’s largest Maternity hospitals, delivering almost 10,000 babies each year, a busy gynaecological unit and over 800 staff

Professor Mary Horgan

MB BcH BAO 1986, MD 1995 

  • UCD Alumni Awardee in , 2019
  • World-renowned expert in infectious disease
  • President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland — the first woman in the role since its establishment in 1654

Dr Eilis McGovern

MB BCh BAO 1978

  • After graduating from UCD, Dr McGovern won the gold medal in surgery and the silver medal in medicine, the first of many awards and honours during her outstanding career
  • In 2010 she was elected President of the Royal College of Surgeons, the first woman to hold the office in its history

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