About the conference

The conference will provide a platform for delegates to participate in keynote sessions, panel discussions and with an opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues in an engaging and professional environment.

Speakers from across the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the United States of America will provide real world examples of the difficulties facing organisations in achieving gender balance in leadership in business, commerce, public service, education, technology and health services, how barriers can be overcome and the value of diversity in enhancing innovation and performance.

To learn more about our speakers click here


  • Thursday Keynote Address by Claire Sugden MLA (Minister for Justice, NI)
  • Friday Keynote Address by Frances Fitzgerald TD (Tánaiste and Minister for Justice & Equality, ROI)
  • Thursday's discussion facilitated by Julia Paul (Queen's University Belfast)

Developing Leadership in Global and Multicultural Organisations

  • Chaired by Patricia Coffey (Allstate US)
  • David Ruebain (Equality Challenge Unit)
  • John Healy (Allstate NI)
  • Anne Phillipson (Leadership Institute, QUB)

Women into Leadership – Overcoming the Barriers

  • Chaired by David Gavaghan (CBI NI)
  • Janet McCollum (Moy Park) 
  • Denise Cranston (Business in the Community)
  • Mrs. Justice Keegan (NI Judiciary)
  • Caitríona Ruane MLA (Principal Deputy Speaker, NI Assembly)

Leadership, Diversity & Innovation

  • Chaired by Prof Julie Chen (UMass Lowell)
  • Catherine O’Neill (Amelio Group)
  • Prof Joe Hartman (UMass Lowell)
  • Claire Burn (Queen’s University Belfast)
  • Mark Campbell (Randox)

Women Leading Change – How Diversity Delivers Performance

  • Chaired by Prof Yvonne Galligan (Queens University Belfast)
  • Sue McAllister (NI Prison Service)
  • Elaine Birchall (SHS Group)
  • Michelle Cullen (Accenture Ireland)
  • Jill Minne (Belfast City Council)

Women, Peace & Security – Leadership During Challenging Times

  • Chaired by Victoria Denoon (UMass Lowell)
  • Prof Paula Rayman (UMass Lowell)
  • Dr Linda Bishai (United States Institute of Peace)
  • Bronagh Hinds (DemocraShe)
  • Judith Gillespie (Policing Authority, ROI)


Queen’s University Belfast is recognised nationally and internationally for its work in promoting the careers of women in academia. 

It was one of the founding members of the Athena SWAN movement in 2005 and the first university to receive a SWAN Silver Institutional Award, since renewed three times.

At present, Schools in QUB hold two Gold, eight Silver and two Bronze departmental awards – one of the largest number of awards held by any UK university.

Profile of Patrick Johnston

Professor Patrick Johnston

President and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University Belfast

"Women’s opinions have often been underrepresented and their contributions overshadowed. I am delighted that we have the opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges faced by women and recognise their positive impact in innovation, business, peace and security through hosting inaugural conference on Women and Leadership in a Changing World."

Belfast city hall in Summer

Belfast and Boston

Working together

Following the inaugural launch in Belfast future conferences will be held in alternate years in Boston and Belfast.

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