I recently agreed to co-chair the IEEE MTT-S Women in Engineering (WIE) / Women in Microwaves (WIM) organization. I have long been an advocate for advancing the cause of women in the world of RF and microwave engineering, actually back to my college days at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) when I was one of only eight women in my EE graduating class of 110. Things have not improved much since then with women representing only 10 percent of IEEE WIE membership in the U.S. today. Asia and Europe fair far better with approximately 40 percent and 20 percent respectively
Why do we care about this? Women are a key demographic in any market and a valuable resource to our “dwindling pool of resources” within our chosen profession. We need more engineers of either gender and diversity in terms of more women in our field will certainly add a different perspective to ideas and insights, as it’s true that not all minds think alike.
One of the first things any of us can do to contribute to this is to promote awareness. We need to find new and novels ways to encourage women to elect engineering as their career choice. I spoke recently with former WIE Chair Karen Panetta, who helped me clarify that we need to tap into the “wonderment” of our career choice and make it desirable to the younger generations. One way to do that is to highlight not only the successful women in our high-tech field like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer or Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, but also to talk about how our profession is what empowers the wireless revolution to take hold and thrive. Watching my kids text, chat and clamor for free WiFi access brings home to me how all of this technology—from products to infrastructure—is largely thanks to microwave theory and techniques.
My co-chair and esteemed colleague Dr. Rashuanda Henderson and I are already formulating plans for improving awareness, communications, and a sense of camaraderie. To that end, please make a point to support WIM by stopping by the reception at IMS 2013, Tuesday night from 6-9 p.m. at the Seattle Space Needle, Level 100!
Men and women alike, come by to say hello, share your ideas and become an advocate for WIM.
IEEE The Institute: IEEE Societies Work to Keep Women in Engineering
Microwaves & RF: Women in Engineering: Current Perspective
Jezebel: Etsy’s Revolutionary Yet Simple Policy Results in More Female Engineers
National Geographic: Why Is a Woman Who Loves Science So Surprising?
Forbes: 10 Things Sheryl Sandberg [Facebook COO] Gets Exactly right in “Lean In”