On November 9th 2018, Smashing Times ran an Inspiration Day with students from Stanhope Street Secondary School with guest speaker Sinéad McKenna, lighting designer. The aim of the event was to introduce the young women to a role model, a lighting designer, show them the resources available on the Digital Girls website and to show them that there are many options for women to explore many various career options in the Digital industries.
The day began with an introduction from Tamar Keane, Producer, Stage Manager and Facilitator about Smashing Times, the project and Sinéad McKenna. The young women sat around close together with Sinéad and Tamar in an intimate setting which started with showing the film.
The girls watched Sinéad McKenna’s case study short film on the Digital Girls Website before opening a discussion with Sinéad about her career. Sinéad started by explaining what her job was, what kind of work she does as a lighting designer, how she got into that particular career and she explained what kind of programmes she used as part of her job. Sinéad went through each step of designing lights for a show, explaining to the young participants the many varied skills involved in her job. As the students were studying the book Asking For It, an adaption of which Sinéad McKenna had designed the lights for the live show in the Abbey Theatre, she was able to go through scenes and sections and how she used her skills to portray certain atmospheres and feelings on stage. The girls found this extremely interesting.
The girls were then given a few minutes to think of questions they would like to ask. This was short as many of the girls had a number of questions they wanted to ask right away. We opened the floor to an incredible discussion that covered many topics. The young women were interested in how Sinéad studied, did she need to have experience in theatre before getting involved in Lighting design, how she created certain atmospheres and looks with the lights and her computer programmes and how she felt about female representation in her industry. The discussion was extremely enlightening, with Sinéad talking about how she makes her own work, runs her career by her own rules and saw how skills she would have put towards a more conventional career like architecture allowed her to pursue this creative and technically exciting career.
After Sinéad’s talk, the young women had a chance with Tamar Keane to explore the Digital Girls website. They explored the career road maps, watched another Irish Role Model video of Anne Coogan, business consultant and learnt about her career in business, discussed social media and how the internet and social media can be used as a tool in many career. There was also a discussion on the many different types of jobs there are for women, even though there may not be clear role models.
The young women loved having Sinéad in to speak with them, saying that ‘it was brilliant’, that they ‘…didn’t know there were that many jobs for women’ and how they would love more women in to ‘come and talk about their experiences’.
As an inspiration day, it was great to see young women engaging in the resources available on the website, as well as getting a chance to learn about the different kinds of jobs you can get from different skills. Everyone thought it was a fun and informative day.