Monika Agrawal, Nidhi Varshey, Malarkodi and Shweta Yadav, IEEE OES
The IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society (OES) and the Marine Technology Society (MTS) organized the prestigious OCEANS conferences during 21-24 February 2022 at Chennai, in India. The Indian Ocean region is lively with many offshore projects coming up as part of Blue Economy initiatives by the Indian Ocean rim countries. This conference brought add-on values with greater interaction among the engineers, scientists, academicians and industry.
Though women representation is very low in the STEM workforce, and the number is much less in the area of Oceanic research, Women in Engineering (WIE) society organized two star events during OCEANS’22, predominantly for women engineers to address the issues and challenges faced by them in their career paths. WIE provides a closely knit network to grow and support women to achieve their potential as engineers, applied scientists and technical leaders.
Two sessions were arranged in online/hybrid mode just to enable everyone from different time zones to participate. In the first session eminent researchers Prof. Milica Stojanovic, Prof. Ira Didenkulova, Dr. Purnima Jalihal, Prof. Ananya Sen, Dr. Nimmi Nair, Ms. Brandy Armstrong, along with research students Ms. Vinti Nayyar and Ms. Nidhi Bisla, presented their views. They shared their experience, views, stories, challenges they faced and how they overcame them and kept going. All the participants equally participated in the discussion.
This 90 minute session was encouraging, motivational and made everyone feel connected to each other. All women in this field have undergone hardships in order to achieve what they desire whilst fulfilling their responsibilities principally as a mother, wife and daughter. In fact, it’s very difficult and challenging for a female to pursue her career in any field, not just engineering. Nevertheless, it is an underlying fact that without their family’s support, none of this would be possible. Overall, it was evident that women around the globe share the same feeling and are fighting against odds to move forward on their ‘unconventional’ path.
The event was well taken and fully engrossing. Brandy introduced Masi and LuMa as WIE Propel, who were recently selected by open call.
The other session was conducted in hybrid mode where most of the panellists were present at the Raman Hall at IIT Madras Research Park, Chennai, India. The panellists were Dr. Malini V. Shankar, Ms. Zdenka Willis, Dr. Timothy A. Gonsalves, Prof. V.G. Idychandy, Dr. G. Latha, Dr. Sheeja Janardhanan, Prof. Ligy Philip and were moderated by Prof. K. Murali. Ms. Zdenka Willis, MTS president, and Dr. Nisha joined the event online.
The panellists discussed the challenges faced by female scientists leading a team of male scientists. Moreover the problems confronted by the women in pursuing higher education, job, etc., along with family commitments. Lack of basic facilities for a female worker at the workplace, which hampers her performance, was also highlighted. Dr. Timothy A. Gonsalves very efficiently brought out that outer world is designed mainly for males; he explained how office furniture, cars, even the clothing are designed for males. It is felt that their own determination and inspiration is the only thing takes women to real new heights
Session was concluded on a positive note with a saying that together women can change the world for themselves… “alone we are just a drop and together we can make OCEAN…”