IEEE PES WiP in conjunction with WIE AG Bangladesh Section and IEEE Bangladesh Section (supported by WePower, a initiative of World bank) arranged a virtual session in IEEE TENSYMP 2020 on 6th of June 2020. The session was attended by a total of around 65 speakers and participants from 14 different countries (Japan, USA, Singapore, South Africa, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Spain, New Zealand, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh). The session had four Keynote Speakers: Dr. Ruomei Li, Dr. Ramalatha Marimuthu, Dr. Takako Hashimoto and Emi Yano. The session was moderated by Dr. Celia Shahnaz, General Chair, TENSYMP 2020; Chair, IEEE Bangladesh Section and IEEE PES WiP R10 representative.

Dr. Ramalatha Marimuthu, Professor, Department of ECE, KCT, India; IEEE WIE Past Chair (2011-2012) gave a presentation on “Women Empowerment and COVID 19”. She explained the need of emphasizing on women empowerment during this pandemic situation. She explored the relation between the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and women empowerment and pointed out how the former is dependent on the latter. She identified some problems that women may face during COVID 19 like disproportionate care burdens, disruption to education, poor access to health services, greater risk of being dispossessed of land and property and gender digital and pay gaps. She discussed the factors from women perspective that can affect SDGs 3, 8, 2 and 12. She explained how gender based violence, unequal laws and practices, wage gaps on the basis of gender, gender digital divide and unequal resource access can affect SDG 10. According to her, women should be involved in all COVID 19 response planning and decision making, transformative changes should be brought in to establish equality by addressing the care economy. Also women should be targeted while addressing the socio-economic impact of COIVD 19.

The next speaker Dr. Takako Hashimoto, Vice President of Chiba University of Commerce (CUC) and IEEE WIE Past Chair (year 2015 and 2016), IEEE Region 10 Secretary gave a presentation on “Women in Professional Development- Research and Career”. She explained how the university is realizing SDGs by 100% renewable energy with an example from Japan. The Energy Management System at the university consists of 902 measuring points in 18 buildings at CUC and the energy in each room is monitored every minute. She being the computer scientist is involved in recognizing electricity consumption status, anomaly detection by using artificial intelligence on the time series big data. It helps her to extract information to save energy for every room. She mentioned how her university is working with other universities, governments and other institutions from the same area on Distributed Energy Society-Smart City. They are also working with NPOs, government and affected people to extract information about people’s reaction during COVID 19 to analyze its impact. The approach they are using is data polishing to obtain high performance and high accuracy. She talked about how she was able to strike a balance between work and raising kids due to good support system and the necessity to develop a good support system.

The next speaker Dr. Ruomei Li, Chair of PES WiP gave a presentation on “Women in Power Lights the Future”. She discussed women empowerment as living fearlessly, independently and having equal opportunities. She discussed the strengths of women like talent of sensitivity and intuition; flexibility, scalability and tolerance; good communication and negotiation skills; being appealing; the courage to take risks; keeping promises, valuing justice above material gains. She also pointed how lack of self-confidence and less participation in social activities make women fall behind. She pointed out the obstacles in the growth of females as being Parents’ education and expectations, family responsibility and social system and culture and that overcoming these will lead them towards success. She even discussed the mission and vision of WiP and demonstrated an analysis on PES female membership. She concluded her presentation by discussing the opportunities WIP can provide like nominating female speakers in IEEE WIE & PES events and qualified females for IEEE WIE & PES awards, finding education opportunities for girls from developing countries, etc.

The next speaker Emi Yano from Ricoh IT Solutions and Chair of IEEE R10 WIE gave a presentation on ‘What is your leadership? – Towards the new normal”. After her brief bio she moved on to define leadership as deciding by yourself and accepting various values, practicing leadership with agility and experiencing deep relationship with oneself, family and coworkers. She urged everyone not to be afraid of making mistakes because it is a running process and action is the first step of changing the world. She mentioned how WIE teams from Indonesia, Japan and Bangladesh are organizing online sessions throughout the COVID 19 pandemic situation. She requested everyone to do their bit during this COVID 19 situation.

Dr. Celia Shahnaz, Chair, IEEE Bangladesh Section then took the opportunity to discuss how she and her team is working on the four pillars of PES: STEM, Recruitment and internship opportunities, professional development and retention. Under STEM category they are introducing students from schools and colleges to renewable energy, smart home design, wiring and other stuffs. Under recruitment category, they are sharing the best practices of some power and energy companies so that more women can know about them and take power and engineering as a profession and retain in the profession. They are also arranging internship opportunities for the students to have a hands on experience of working in a power and energy company.  Under professional development category, they are arranging industrial visits for female young professionals and students and conducting parallel tracks by bringing in women role models so that students and young engineers can learn from them. Under retention category, they are sharing experiences of women who have had long and successful careers in PES fields.

Later, Nafisa Tasnim, Vice Chair, WIE AG Bangladesh section gave a short presentation on the initiatives taken by WIE AG Bangladesh Section during the COVID 19 pandemic situation.

Dr. Akinori Nishihara, Director of IEEE R10 emphasized that gender issue is very important and also that we need diversity to make progress and innovation. He thinks a combination of both male and female people will bring more progress and expects more women to join IEEE activities.

Dr. Saifur Rahman thought there were some very interesting stories that the speakers shared about their professional life, family life, achievements and overcoming barriers. He suggested to put these ideas together in one place like a blog to be shared with high school girls, college students and young professionals to give them the message “You are not alone in your suffering, many have suffered like you and done well.”

Professor Lawrence Wong, IEEE R10 Past Director and IEEE R10 Advisory Committee Member suggested to set up an advisory mentorship program where juniors can meet senior WIE members and senior eminent scientists. It can have a huge impact on the younger generation to set their goals.

Pauline N. Kawamoto from Japan, Professor Riri Fitri Sari from WIE Indonesia Section, Natsuko Noda: WIE Chair Japan, Dr. Aishwarya Bandla: WIE Chair Singapore, Maheshi Dissanayake from Sri Lanka, Preeti Bajaj from India, Norliza Mohd Noor from Malaysia, Rachna Garg from India, Aarti Karande from Bombay Section, Zuhaina Zakaria from Malaysia Section, Sudeshna Choudhury from India, Supavadee Aramvith from Thailand and many others shared their experiences and suggestions about encouraging and mentoring students and young engineers. The session ended after sharing the best practices of different WIE AGs and commending the organizers for pulling up such an interactive track.

Dr. Celia Shahnaz
PES WiP R10 Representative