Women in Engineering

A message from the EMBS Liaison on the IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) Committee

Lisa Lazareck-Asunta, PhD

I am very grateful to be continuing as the 2018 EMBS Liaison on the IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) Committee. I have been volunteering with the EMBS since 2004 in various roles (Student Representative, Young Professionals Representative) and have a background in biomedical signal processing, electrical engineering, grant funding and public engagement with science and engineering.

IEEE WIE is one of the largest international professional organisations dedicated to promoting women engineers and scientists, and inspiring girls around the world to follow their academic interests in a career in engineering. Its vision is to facilitate the global recruitment and retention of women in technical disciplines and envisions a vibrant community of IEEE women and men collectively using their diverse talents to innovate for the benefit of humanity. Check out their new website: http://wie.ieee.org/.

A common misunderstanding of the role of WIE is that it is something for only women to join. Approximately 30% WIE members are men, and absolutely anyone can join the conversation. WIE annual membership is free for Students, Graduate Student Members and Life Member; and US$25 otherwise for all other Members.

What does my role entail?
As EMBS-WIE Representative, my job is multi-faceted. I represent our Society at WIE meetings, and share knowledge about best practices across IEEE. I also figure out how WIE can best support our Society’s goals and vision. At the EMBS AdCom (Administrative Committee, that makes executive-level decisions for the Society), I speak on behalf of WIE and represent women’s views during our conversations. AdCom provides an annual operational funding budget to support EMBS-WIE activities. Did you know that EMBS Chapters can apply to the EMBS Executive Office for partner funding to support joint EMBS and WIE events within your section? At present this is a modest budget which can grow in-future, as demand increases. For example, perhaps there is a prominent female biomedical engineer that you would like to invite to give a seminar for a technical meeting you would like to run… We can assist you with partner funding for that event.

EMBC 2018 – please see the annual conference website for details on the two networking events I am running, and do come and say HELLO!

NEWS (April 2018): EMBS creates its first Diversity & Inclusion Committee

At the end of 2017, members of the EMBS Executive Committee (or ExCom) engaged in strategic discussions about Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in their respective portfolios, including: Conferences, Member & Student Activities, Publications, Technical Activities and Finances. The term “D&I” reaches beyond the mere breakdown of gender (male / female / other); i.e., it is an all-inclusive term that ranges from ethnicity, geographical location, disability, and even ways of thinking.

In January 2018, a summary report was created and submitted to ExCom for review, including five recommendations for the year ahead. ExCom endorsed these recommendations and the creation of the Society’s first Diversity & Inclusion Committee. The recommendations are included below, and are a starting point for the Society moving forward. The D&I Committee will be chaired by the EMBS-WIE Representative, and will report to the Vice President, Members & Student Activities. The Committee is advisory at this stage, and new opportunities for Committee membership plus related volunteer projects will be advertised through the EMBS Executive Office – so please read your newsletters!

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Redraft the EMBS by-laws for the promotion of D&I.
  2. Include one WIE event, as a standard rather than a feature, at every major EMBS Conference to foster networking, encourage mentorship, enhance collaboration, and promote membership of both WIE and EMBS.
  3. Overhaul the nomination processes for Technical Committees, Editorial Boards, EMBS Awards, Distinguished Lecturer Series, etc.
  4. Report Society-related metrics on a regular basis for awareness and actions moving forward.
  5. Increase the number of women Senior Members and Fellows in our Society, plus create a strategy for continued Society interaction with women as they progress in their careers.

I look forward to seeing many of you at EMBC’18. Safe travels and thank you.

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