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Reflecting on Girls into Geoscience Ireland for International Women's Day 2021

It's been quite a year, hasn't it? I was recently asked my thoughts on the past year, and I don't know how you would have reacted in the same position, but my immediate response was not overly cheerful. On the surface of things, this past year has been rubbish. Really rubbish. But, that said, later on in the conversation my friend and I started to reflect on some of the more positive things to have emerged out of the pandemic. We surprised ourselves with how many good things had come to light in the murky darkness that was last year. Remembering this conversation got me thinking about Girls into Geoscience and what to write about for our first International Women's Day blog post. Although we couldn't come together for an in person event, through the efforts of a team of brilliant female identifying people and allies, a bigger, better, more connected event was possible, and it's this positive attitude of change and problem solving in the face of adversity that I want to use this post to celebrate.

Planning for a Girls into Geoscience - Ireland event normally starts in January, we normally have a short break in between our November event and kicking things off for the next year. As with previous years, we were setting up our event day and looking into potential field trip options. Everything was looking pretty good... then March came around. For an oganisation that is centralised around one in person event, this threw us into complete disarray and we were forced to cancel our in person event. It was deeply disappointing, but we knew it was for the best.

Across the Irish Sea, our colleagues from Girls into Geoscience England, Scotland and Wales were in the same position. We were all having to cancel and we knew that this meant a whole cohort of female-identifying people would miss out the introduction to the geosciences and to geoscientists that look like them that is so important to Girls into Geoscience. We decided to get together and have a chat, and from our separated, locked-down make-shift offices, we hatched a plan. We would not back down in the face of the pandemic, in fact, we would come together to build something positive, something new, something that could reach participants wherever the pandemic had trapped them. And so, Virtual Girls into Geoscience was born.

This pandemic has forced us apart in so many ways, but it has also pulled us together in others. Our Virtual Girls into Geoscience event saw 266 future geologists come together from all around the world, a feat that would never have been possible at an in-person event. The virtual event was an overwhelming success, and we were so proud to have pulled it together in such a short time. It just shows how much can be achieved when you work together.

This year has also seen the launch of the new Girls into Geoscience - Ireland website! We're so proud of it's slick design and new, easier contact features that are allowing any more people to find and get in touch with us. Our new website also plays host to our fantastic blog post series. We post at least once per month, and each post is a personal submission by a brilliant geoscience role model. The blog series is a way for geoscientists to talk about what is important to them in their own words, and to share it with you, the readers. We hope that the blog post series will continue to go from strength to strength!

The 'down time' caused by the pandemic and the inability to hold in-person event's has given us further opportunities to have a think about Girls into Geoscience - Ireland and the future of the GiGie events. We love hosting our day-long extravaganza, but we realise that there's more that we could be doing! There are some exciting expansions to the GiGie programme in development, so watch this space...

Finally, in some exciting news, a new Girls into Geoscience chapter, Girls into Geoscience - North (UK), has joined the sisterhood! This brings our total number of chapters to five. It's such a positive thing to see the Girls into Geoscience initiative grow and blossom, and definitely something to celebrate on this International Women's Day!

With that, I think this post is drawing to a close, but before I sign off, I just want to celebrate the inspirational people behind all of the Girls into Geoscience events. Though they stay out of the limelight, it's them and their enthusiasm that make Girls into Geoscience possible.

The team behind Girls into Geoscience in Ireland and the UK!

Top left: Dr Jodie Fisher (GiG England), top middle: Dr Sarah Boulton (GiG England), top right: Dr Amanda Owen (GiG Scotland), bottom left: Dr Marie Busfield (GiG Wales), bottom middle: Elspeth Wallace (GiG Ireland), bottom right: Dr Tracy Aze (GiG North)

Happy International Women's Day everyone, and here's to another fantastic year of Girls into Geoscience moving forward!

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