Women in Engineering: an extremely valuable part of our scientific and professional community in IEEE Region 8.
I believe that it is essential to expand the presence, visibility, and roles of women in our scientific and professional community as well as in our Region and in the entire IEEE. First of all, they are still not present in the engineering profession and in the various roles as they are in the overall workforce and the society worldwide. Second, diversity of views and thinking are essential to see problems and opportunities in a more holistic way and find better approaches. In the past, there has been a limited number of women who choose the engineering disciplines and profession: as IEEE Region 8 and global IEEE we should continue to support and expand activities to attract more women to science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics, also in cooperation with other non-profit associations. We should not only show the value of these disciplines, the job opportunities, and the value of more women presence, but also support more young women in developing their skills and competences, build their career, and contribute actively to these disciplines. We should further promote the culture of equal opportunities in the working places. We should pro-actively engage in our community, in our Region, and in the entire IEEE the many extraordinary women professionals in the IEEE field of interest.
I do firmly believe in an active role of our Region and the entire IEEE for equal opportunities. When I have been President of one of our Societies, I asked to engage more women in the various committees of the Society, significantly rising the number from the level that was typical at that time. With moral suasion and pointing out that there were many examples of women volunteers who were as extraordinary as men, I have been able to make people understanding the need of being pro-active and engaging in equal opportunities. People appreciated the outcomes so much, that they continued to use these guidelines even though they were not written anywhere in regulations. As long-time member of WIE, I am happy and proud of this.
In addition to the strategic actions conceived in general for industrial engineers, young professionals, entrepreneurs, and people in the academy (as detailed in other messages of mine), I envision further specific support in the following directions:
General Public awareness and pre-university education
- Increase awareness about science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics among the general public, specifically pointing out equal opportunities and diversity in the work places and job opportunities in the IEEE field of interest, so to make more attractive and accessible this field to both genders. To this purpose we can adopt public visibility activities, technology competitions, humanitarian activities, and projects for the local community.
- Continue to expand significantly the activities for pre-university education in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics, in particular by showing that these areas are suited to both genders.
- Promote inclusion and visibility of women participation in humanitarian activities (SIGHT) and projects for the local community (EPICS).
- Expand creation of modules (TIPS) to promote equal opportunity and diversity in pre-university education, especially in the area of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics, to support pervasive awareness and fundamental competences among the new generations and, indirectly, their families.
Continuing education and career building
- Disseminate, more pervasively among women students and professionals, opportunities for continuing education to remain on the leading edge of technology and innovation, both on advanced foundations and emerging and multi-disciplinary technologies as well as emerging needs for technologies, applications and standards, in particular by means of webinars and online courses.
- Expand the materials, tools, mentoring, and other services for career development, soft skills training, management, and leadership, especially in the early stages, focusing on equal opportunities and the industry need of diversity in the work place.
- Introduce a recommendation system to create personalized continuing education programs, according to the specific background of individuals and their respective needs, goals and aspirations, specifically considering equal opportunities and leadership roles.
- Enhance mentoring for early volunteering development, as a tool for experimenting leadership in a safe environment.
- Disseminate more pervasively opportunities for internships among women students and professionals, and promote a culture of equal access in the work places.
- Promote participation to technical competitions, as a tool for experimenting cooperation, team building, and leadership in a safe environment, as well as a way to make equal opportunity and participation more appreciated by the entire teams and the scientific and professional community.
- Expand networking opportunities among women professionals, across every group in our Region and worldwide.
- Reinforce attention on women professionals in networking opportunities at conferences and other events, promoting interaction with more senior volunteers.
- Enhance engagement of women engineering professionals in local people networking activities with local technically-specialized groups, maker events, and competitions.
- Develop information material for managers and professionals to point out the value of equal opportunities and diversity in the work place in the engineering field, specifically directed to employers and managers.
- Ensure a pervasive presence of women professionals in groups of our Region to bring their views and aspirations in all decision processes, ensuring they have impact in oour Region and the entire IEEE.
- Expand the support to public policy to enable professionals to contribute in shaping the national policies on promoting equal opportunities and diversity.
- Do not to charge fees to women for membership to the Women in Engineering Affinity Group, for fairness with respect to Young Professionals Affinity Group.
- Significantly expand the pro-active identification of excellence of women professionals as role models for the young generations and the entire society, in science, technology, product development, engineering practice, and industry management. This approach will allow for ensuring more women nominated for the IEEE Region 8 awards and IEEE awards, and, consequently, a fairer recognition of excellence in our scientific and professional community.
- Our Region and the entire IEEE should join efforts with other institutions, non-profit associations, and industry to address equal opportunity and diversity in a more pervasive way and attract more women to science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics, further involving parents, teachers, and young students from the very early stages.
Actual specific activities should be identified together with people in each geographical area of our Region, since the most appropriate solutions depend on the specific needs and aspirations of the local professional community.
Even though the list of activities envisioned above is long, it is worth noting that different groups in our Region and the entire IEEE are involved so that many activities can be addressed in parallel and synergies exploited in coordinated collaborative efforts across the entire IEEE, working all together. The actual initiatives should be anyway analyzed on the bases of the specific needs of each geographical area and the available financial and human resources.