WIM – Diversity Gone Global

Apr 13, 2016 | Posted by: Sherry Hess

Nearly a year ago now, the WIE (Women in Engineering) Leadership Conference was held in Silicon Valley.  I have commented prior about Intel CEO Brian K Krzanich’s keynote and reference to its “Diversity Challenge.”  Little does Brian know, but his talk has had far-reaching effects within our own IMS MTT-S WIM organization.  It has inspired me to take the essence of this challenge—that diversity brings different viewpoints, skills, and knowledge to the table, improving the workforce and driving better business—and use it to spearhead similar talks.

First up was IMS2015 and our WIM-sponsored panel titled, “Diversity in Microwaves: Let’s Talk About the Demographics.” Moderated by Dr. Kate Remley, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Metrology for Wireless Systems Project, it included participants representing our global community with the intent to share and discuss issues that women and other minorities face in their career paths around the world. This full afternoon session spotlighted a diverse group of exceptional women and their involvement and contribution to our microwave engineering society.

Next stop on this world tour was COMCAS 2015 in Tel Aviv, Israel.  Here I met Professor Orit Hazaan of the Department of Education in Science and Technology at Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. Prof. Hazaan was the featured speaker in our WIM-sponsored session, “Diversity in High-Tech – What’s Working and Why?” In her speech, Prof. Hazaan asserted that it is in the interest of the high-tech world, rather than in the interest
of any specific underrepresented group in the community, to enhance diversity in general, and gender diversity in particular. She illustrated how the creation of a culture that enhances diversity benefits the entire STEM community. The follow on discussion, which included prominent women from Israel, the U.K. and the U.S., addressed the benefits a diverse organization offers, as well as where we are in achieving a diverse work culture in North America and Europe.

Thereafter was APMC in China in early December, where I met Professor “Cherry” Wenquan Che of the Nanjing University of Science and Technology, who led a panel discussion, “The Current Status of Women in Microwave Engineering in Universities of China.” This discussion looked at diversity in engineering throughout the world and especially in China, and focused on diversity in Chinese universities. Online surveys were shared that show the outlook for engineering careers in China is bright. Some key observations were that female professors and students are becoming a more important part of the workforce, males and females have different advantages and teamwork and cooperation are the best way to achieve the highest productivity, and for women who desire to achieve balance between career development and family, more understanding and support are expected from family, colleagues, society, and government policy making.

Now coming full circle, we are back to IMS again.  This year the diversity challenge has evolved to take on a new angle, namely, “Leadership: How to Inspire Change.” The panel will explore and discuss ideas useful to all technical professionals who are striving to grow their leadership skills. Specific topics explored include:

  • How diversity helps us avoid becoming stagnant
  • How to overcome career roadblocks
  • The role that visibility plays in successful leadership

Last but by no means least, join me on LinkedIn to share your ideas for WIM: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6955695