Exploring Challenges, Opportunities, and solutions for WIE during COVID-19
Women in Engineering Affinity Group (WIE AG) of IEEE Bangladesh Section, IEEE Bangladesh Section, and IEEE PES, Women in Power (WiP) jointly organized the virtual event “Women in Engineering Tech Summit 2020” on 9th August 2020, as a co-located event at International COVID Congress (ICC) 2020. The theme of the event was “Exploring Challenges, Opportunities, and solutions for WIE during COVID-19”. Renowned international and national technical professionals from both industry and academia delivered talks at the event. Around 110 speakers, panelists and participants attended the three-hour-long session from China, Japan, the USA, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. The event was hosted on the Zoom platform.
Dr. Bozenna Pasik-Duncan and Dr. Ruomei Li were the keynote speakers. Dr. Paulina Y Chan, Dr. Dewi Yanti Liliana, Dr. Maheshi Dissanayake, Soumaya Jaber, Dr. Aarti Karande, Pramiti Alam, Shruti Jain, and Sudeshna Choudhury were the eight panelists of the event. Dr. Celia Shahnaz, General Chair of ICC 2020, Professor at Dept. of EEE, BUET, Chair of IEEE Bangladesh Section, and IEEE PES WiP Region 10 representative was the advisor of the event. Nafisa Tasnim, Vice-Chair of WIE AG, IEEE Bangladesh Section and Senior Engineer of Energypac Engineering Limited and Irtiza Haque, Treasurer of WIE AG, IEEE Bangladesh Section and Lead Engineer of IT, Technology, The Grameenphone Limited moderated the whole session.
The session started with the welcome speech from Dr. Celia Shahnaz. She suggested the women engineers embrace the current pandemic situation as the “new normal” and requested the speakers and panelists to share their solutions to the challenges emerging in research and job sectors including academia and industries during this COVID-19 situation.
Next, Professor Bozenna Pasik-Duncan, a professor from the University of Kansas delivered a Keynote Talk. She is a life Fellow of IEEE and past Chair of IEEE WIE. She shared her ideas to overcome the challenges in evaluating the students during the COVID-19. She mentioned the importance of collaboration and discussed the difficulties arising while starting collaboration.
Next, Soumaya Jaber, panelist of the session, delivered her speech. She is the current Chair of IEEE WIE, South Australia. She mentioned that positivity, optimism, and unity between the women engineers will help them overcome the challenges they face. She suggested that we should continually educate ourselves and stay connected utilizing digital technologies.
The next speaker was Pramiti Alam, Deputy General Manager, Energypac Engineering Limited, and panelist of the session. She noted the challenges and risks that are imposed upon the working mothers and expecting mothers. She proposed some solutions, such as extended maternity leave, work from home opportunities, and flexible working hours.
Next panelist of the session was Dr. Paulina Y Chan, Chair, IEEE Hong Kong Section, and Chair, IEEE WIE Hong Kong (2018-19). She said that combating community spread requires collaborative efforts across multiple sectors. She also presented various ways IEEE HK has been lending its support to their member community.
Thereafter, the speech was delivered by the panelist Dr. Dewi Yanti Liliana, Department of IEC, Politeknik Negeri Jakarta, Secretary of WIE Indonesia Section. She shared the overview of her project “Women Against Disruptive Information on COVID-19 Pandemic in Indonesia,” supported by IEEE HAC and IEEE SIGHT from its COVID-19 fund.
Next, Dr. Ruomei Li, Chair, IEEE PES, WiP delivered the Keynote Talk. She suggested the ways to be successful and plead to foster self-confidence, win by strength, focus, do the important things first and try to get support from the family. She also urged to discover and encourage others, keep the bottom line of conscience morality and professional ethics, forget and look forward to being successful.
Then the panelist speaker Dr. Maheshi Dissanayake, Senior Lecturer, Department of EEE, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, Chair-elect, IEEE Sri Lanka Section and Chair, WIE Sri Lanka delivered the talk. She mentioned the activities of WIE Sri Lanka during the COVID-19 outbreak, such as Coding Contest, International WIE Symposium, and Webinar Series.
The next speaker was Shruti Jain, Associate Professor at the Jaypee University of Information Technology, India, and panelist of the session. She told that three essential factors that empower women: self-confidence, exposure, and independence. She spoke about the discrimination that women face in society in their daily life.
Next panelist speaker was Sudeshna Choudhury, Analytics and Insights Business Partner, Utilities at Tata Consultancy Services, and Vice-Chair, WIE, IEEE Kolkata Section. She explained the advantage of “work-from-home” approach for women during COVID-19. She urged the women for enhancing various skills and networking, which will help them to grow.
The last panelist speaker was Dr. Aarti Karande, Assistant Professor, Sardar Patel Institute of Technology, Mumbai, and Chair, WIE SPIT. She suggested that to build themselves, women should channelize their communications effectively while maintaining transparency and honesty. She shared some activities that WIE has planned during the pandemic.
Finally, Dr. Celia Shahnaz concluded the session with a word of thanks to the panelists, speakers, participants, and volunteers for making the summit a success and wished everyone safety and good health in the pandemic situation. She also introduced all the participants who were present during the session. All the speakers gave their valuable suggestions for the young professionals, students, and participants on how they can utilize their valuable time during this pandemic.
The Summit provided a great opportunity for the participants with promising ideas on different technologies and also provided a platform for networking and collaboration. There was also a live question-answer session to address the theme of the meet-up.
Dr. Celia Shahnaz
WiP Region 10 Representative