President’s Message/Message du Président Spring / Printemps 2018 23 omen in Engineer- ing (WIE) was created to sup- port women in a field dominated by men and give them a voice within the IEEE. In every region of IEEE there are now strong networks. More recently there’s a move within IEEE to encourage participation and reward achieve- ment at the Society level. When Celia Desmond—now hav- ing just completed her term as Division III Director (Communi- cations Tech.)—first joined the organization about three decades ago as Chapter chair in Ottawa, she saw a need for more women sitting on boards. This hasn't changed much, she says. In between, she has been IEEE Canada President, IEEE Communications Society President, IEEE Secretary and IEEE VP Technical Activities. Early on, Desmond sat on the boards for the IEEE Computer Society and the predecessor to the Technology and Engineering Management Society (TEMS). “Sometimes there was another woman around and sometimes not,” she said. “At that time there wasn't even a WIE group — it got started around 1994.” And while WIE didn’t have much clout at first, “over the years people did start to realize women are in engineering and it started to get more prominent.” A factor in how WIE is promoted internally is its “home” in the organization. It was decided, for administrative purposes, WIE would fall under Member and Geographic Activities (MGA). Every Region would have a WIE rep that sat on the WIE Com- mittee and reported to MGA. In Canada, Desmond says WIE does a lot of great work for the Region and beyond. “At the same time, we have these 46 Societies and Technical Coun- cils, and they reach a whole differ- ent level of IEEE members,” she said. “They should also be active in WIE; they should be encour- aging women to go into engineer- ing, encouraging women engin- eers to become active in IEEE.” Considering the percentage of engineering graduates versus the percentage of female IEEE mem- bers, “we’re not doing too bad, but we could do better,” said Desmond. “If 12 per cent of graduates are women, it doesn’t mean we can’t get more than 12 per cent women members. We could do better if we reached out more — on the Society side we would reach dif- ferent people and give recognition to those women who have moved up in their technical area.” The Societies, which range in size from 2,000 to 50,000 members, tend to have a technical focus, and provide a home for many of IEEE’s volunteers. “When I was the Communications Society president, we had 45,000 mem- bers from 160 countries, and more than 50 per cent of our members were in industry,” said Desmond. “They all worked in a communica- tions field of some sort.” Since WIE was in its early stages, the Society came up with a Women in Communications Engineering (WICE) group, which still exists. “They aren’t really conflicting with each other, but maybe col- lectively if we all worked together we could do better,” she said. The Technical Activities Board (TAB) has become involved, out of concern that more women aren’t pursuing STEM careers or getting involved with IEEE. The aim of Technical Activities (TA) commun- ities is to develop a volunteer-led environment where thought leaders converge and solicit, refine and dis- seminate quality technical informa- tion while nurturing and promoting innovative ideas and new fields. One of TAB’s goals is to nurture underserved segments of tech- nical communities, including women. As a result, TAB created a one-year technical committee to conduct research into women in engineering, looking into issues such as why fewer than 25 per cent of WIE reps attended TAB meetings. The results were interesting: In the IEEE brochure encouraging mem- bership, for example, you didn’t see any women. “You do now,” said Desmond. “If you’re looking at who got awards, and you go back the last 10 years, you don’t find very many women there. You can find awards that have never been won by a woman.” Those findings have led to a set of ideas and practices to improve women’s involvement in IEEE. This temporary committee was made into a permanent commit- tee last year under the Strategic Planning division within TAB, with five members. The idea is to continually update best practices, which include flagship confer- ences, networking receptions and professional development activ- ities. Publications will highlight prominent women and a dedicat- ed WIE website is to be created. To date, they have formed a sub- committee to identify and nom- inate women for awards, cre- ated the Ambassadors program, organized WIE presentations at schools, invited women to assume roles within IEEE, and worked on cross-Society or cross-Council activities. They’re also educating women on the value proposition of IEEE. “We want to get an inter- By Vawn Himmelsbach Community News/Nouvelles de la communauté TAB teams up with WIE to encourage women’s involvement in engineering ✓Increases efforts to drive tech- nology within IEEE. Promotes, facilitates and supports a global volunteer organization of innovative and agile tech- nical communities. ✓Uses the best technologies to attract, access, and dissemin- ate the highest quality tech- nical information in the areas of interest to IEEE. Technical Activities Board (TAB) “If 12 per cent of graduates are women, it doesn’t mean we can’t get more than 12 per cent women members. We could do better if we reached out more — on the Society side we should give recognition to those women who have moved up in their technical area.”