Microwave Journal

Women in Microwaves (WIM) Reception

May 8, 2011

IMS 2011 will mark my second year organizing the WIM Reception, and the second time I actually attend this event. Now, I have been going to IMS since the mid-1990s, but I had not heard of this event prior to last year. Why is that? Well, for starters the "technical" side of the show and the "exhibition" side are like magnets with the same polarization. They repel each other. Perhaps I am exaggerating a little with this analogy, but there seems to be some truth in the statement. The technical/committee side of IMS organizes the conference, and many believe the focus should largely be on the conference attendees and not the many thousands of exhibitors who also attend IMS. Let’s take a closer look.

Given that I hold a BSEE degree from Carnegie Mellon University—one of only eight women who graduated in a class of 150 in 1988—why would I not have been previously invited to attend the “women in microwave engineering” or WIM Reception? Why had I not heard of it? Certainly, since such a small percentage of engineers in the RF and microwave realm are women to begin with, it appears even more difficult to get the word out about this reception.

After learning about this event, I quickly spoke up and got to work making sure more and more women, regardless of their IMS registration, became aware of the WIM Reception. I knew we had to be aggressive with our outreach in order to increase awareness of our group and to fully promote the many benefits and opportunities that the RF and microwave industry offers women.

Last year, I am happy to share, we had women from all facets of IMS, regardless of their registration status, attend the event:

  • Technologists like Kiki Ikossi of DTRA and Amanda Hereida of Aethercomm
  • Exhibitors like Jeannette Wilson of Freescale and Katherine Van Diepen of Anritsu
  • Editors like Kate Remley from IEEE Microwave and Christina Nickolas of Electronic Products
  • Educators like Zoya Popovic of UC Boulder and Rashaunda Henderson of UT Dallas
  • And Microwave Journal’s staff of women too: Jenn DiMarco, newly promoted Managing Editor of Microwave Journal and Kristen Anderson, Marketing and Event Coordinator for Microwave Journal

Overall, we had more than 75 people (men and women) attend the WIM Reception during IMS 2010, which was more than double the year prior participation. For WIM 2011, I hope to exceed last year’s attendance and surpass 100 as there are easily a few hundred women who attend some aspect of IMS.

With such a small percentage of women pursuing engineering even today, we have to find novel ways to stay connected to the ones who have already chosen “RF and microwave” as their path, and work together to uncover ways to bring even more females into this domain of engineering.

It is definitely a struggle to make engineering appear more inspiring for either gender, whether male or female, but it cannot hurt for all of us—as engineers —to stretch a little bit outside of our comfort zone and talk about our profession. Our field of RF and microwave literally brought us the wireless revolution. I mean the 24/7 access to everything, anywhere and in any way.

Naturally, with so much content and information out there fighting for our attention, we have to raise our collective voice and cut through the information clutter with our message about how great the RF and microwave engineering discipline is. As a simple tip, the next time someone asks, “How does my smartphone know which way I’m holding it and self-adjust?” Maybe we should answer it with an “oh, if you were an engineer, you would know.” Or when someone says, “What did we do before GPS?,” maybe we should answer, “we spent hours driving around, wasting gas, lost in the car; but now thanks to engineers, we always know exactly where we are.”

Remember this and spread the word:

  • WIM (Women in Microwave Engineering) Reception - IMS 2011
  • Tuesday evening, June 7, 2011, 6-8 PM
  • Hilton Lobby Bar, Hilton Convention Center Hotel, Baltimore, MD

Reserve your spot at the reception, e-mail RSVP to wim@ims2011.org or for all of you out there using a GPS on your smartphone, enter 401 W Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 then touch “go.” And remember to say “thanks” to our collective group of engineers who made it possible to do so in the first place!