December 2020 OES Beacon

Incredible Women in Engineering Programs at Virtual OCEANS 2020

Brandy Armstrong – VP Professional Activities  

I hope you were able to catch the first global (combined Singapore and Gulf Coast), virtual, OCEANS. This was an OCEANS full of exciting firsts, including extended Young Professional and Women in Engineering (WIE) programs.

IEEE Women in Engineering Welcome and Panel

Women in Engineering Panel

The Women’s Program started strong Tuesday, October 6th, with an IEEE WIE panel moderated by myself featuring 3 former OCEANS student poster competition (SPC) winners and one SPC judge. Each panelist presented on how their careers have evolved including difficulties overcome, lessons learned, and successes and support received along the way. This is the latest in an ongoing series of panels held at OCEANS to encourage networking, support and mentorship of women in engineering and provide an opportunity for women to see other women succeeding in their field and hear their narratives.

Panelists included:

Dr. Ruth Perry, Marine Scientist and Regulatory Policy Specialist, Shell Exploration and Production Americas

Dr. Allison Penko, Coastal Engineer, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Dr. Nina Stark, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech

Dr. Malika Meghjani, Assistant Professor, Singapore University of Technology and Design

After short presentations by each of our panelists, viewers submitted their questions through the chat box. Questions covered diverse topics from work life balance and how to deal with gender bias in the workplace to the importance of support through friendship and mentorship. With women from Academia, Industry, and Government represented in the panel, it showed that YES you can pick a path that speaks to your passions and be very successful. You don’t have to take my word for it, here is one male participant’s glowing feedback:

“The Women in Engineering session was incredible. Men in all areas but especially in leadership positions would benefit from seeing it.”

Allison Penko talk’s about her journey as a woman in STEM during the IEEE Women in Engineering panel.
Dr. Ruth Perry summarizes lessons she has learned along her journey.

Our panelists used the lessons learned along their journeys to give some great advice for success as women in engineering:

  • Find your champions/mentors and work with them
  • Normalize motherhood in the workplace
  • Build a support structure (friends, mentors, professional network)
  • Embrace challenges, but not alone
  • Give yourself Grace

Town Hall on Women in Leadership in Ocean Science

The next event was on Friday October 9th, a Town Hall on Women Leadership in Ocean Science and Technology. Speakers included:

Rita Colwell, University of Maryland

Ken Bailey, NOAA

Anne Miglarese, Saildrone

Christi Montgomery, United States Navy

Marie Colton, Hydros LLC

Viewers were asked to actively participate by answering questions using Mentimeter. Topics discussed included how to fix the “leaky pipeline” (why we lose so many women before they reach mid-career) to how we can ensure women are supported and heard.

Picture a Scientist Viewing and Panel

The Women’s Program concluded with a free screening of Tribeca Film Festival Documentary Picture a Scientist and a panel on October 21st, Wonder Woman Day. The showing was followed by a panel discussion led by Zdenka Willis. Panelists included:

Dr. Penny Chisholm, Institute Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Department of Biology, MIT

Dr. Rita Colwell, University Professor at the University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and President of CosmosID, Inc.

Nicole LeBoeuf, Acting Assistant Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Ocean Service

Dr. Karen St. Germain, Division Director of the Earth Science Division, in the Science Mission Directorate at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters

Dr. Mandy Joye, Regents’ Professor, Department of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia

Brandy Armstrong, Research Scientist, The University of Southern Mississippi School of Ocean Science and Engineering

Mentimeter was again used to let panelists and audience members see what sectors were represented (.edu, .gov, etc), what career stages were represented (student, early, mid, late, retired) and how the documentary made viewers feel. Panelists addressed a wide variety of topics including why diversity in science is important, how to assert yourself and how to find (or be) an ally in the workplace.

To join the continuing conversations started this year at OCEANS, please join us on LinkedIn in the Women in Leadership in Marine Technology and Science group.

The recent IEEE OES testimonial from four pioneering OES WIE members including myself, Marinna Martini, Harumi Sugimatsu, and Milica Stojanovic was released during virtual OCEANS 2020.

IEEE OES WIE Testimonial

In conjunction with the Women’s Program, IEEE OES released a testimonial from four pioneering OES WIE members including myself, Marinna Martini, Harumi Sugimatsu, and Milica Stojanovic. Social media coordinator Manu Ignatius recorded and edited the testimonial while Young Professional Boost laureate  Rajat Mishra interviewed our WIE members. If you would like to watch and share our message to aspiring members please visit the IEEE OES YouTube channel .

The recent IEEE OES testimonial from four pioneering OES WIE members including myself, Marinna Martini, Harumi Sugimatsu, and Milica Stojanovic was released during virtual OCEANS 2020.

We collected a lot of great feedback on the programs to help us improve future programs for Women in Engineering. One recommendation, which we have been and will continue to work on, is featuring more diverse panelists. If you are interested in participating or helping to organize a future WIE program or have recommendations, please reach out to me. Let’s work together to make future programs more diverse and ensure that all members (and potential members) of our Women in Engineering community are represented.