Panama Chapter Celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

By Yessica Sáez - IEEE ComSoc Panama Chapter Chair

Science and gender equality are vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In recent decades, the international community has made a great effort to inspire and promote the participation of women and girls in science. However, women continue to encounter obstacles to develop in the field of science. In order to achieve full and equal access and participation in science for women and girls, and further to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the United Nations General Assembly decided to proclaim in 2016 (resolution A/RES/70/212), February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

This year, ComSoc Panama, in collaboration with the WIE-UTP-Student Branch, joined this unprecedented movement and decided to celebrate it by showing the role of a scientist within our community, since ComSoc Panama believes that to achieve a greater access and the participation of more women and girls in science in a full and equitable way, we must begin by recognizing the important role that they play in the society.

The event was held virtually, with the participation of members and non-members, including professionals, students, and the general public. The invited speaker was Gina Villafañe, an Electronic and Communication Engineer and a proud volunteer of ComSoc Panama. She is also a consultant in Information Sciences at the Government Innovation Authority of Panama and, along with other collaborators, has managed to position this country as one of the pioneering countries in the use of technological tools that are integrated with all both public and private health systems and services related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the important tasks that the Gina performs are:

  • Lead engineer, responsible for the design of data mining algorithms for the epidemiological monitoring, production of indicators and statistical analysis of the Ministry of Health of Panama.

  • Technical representative before the executive council of the Operation Center for the Control and Traceability of COVID-19 (COCYTC).

  • Lead engineer, responsible for the design of the data set of the vaccumometer for the Panavac19 operation.

Since Gina also studied Cinematography, she divided her talk into three main acts:

  • Act 1: Every end is a beginning, where he shared anecdotes and historical data to show how worlds are often broken to build new ones and the important role telecommunications has played in this.

  • Act 2: jump into the pool, where she talked about the importance of deciding to do something that you consider difficult or risky.

  • Act 3: “I feel beneath my heels the ribs of Rocinante,” where she shared anecdotes about new adventures undertaken during her professional and personal career.

In her presentation, Gina shared with us facts about how she has rethought how to approach complex problems with the use of telecommunications engineering, the adoption of technology (eg. mature or emerging), intangible assets (eg. knowledge, data, etc), among others, for the creation of public value. Gina Villafañe really is an example of a talented women in telecommunications. For this reason, in 2021, Gina received the ComSoc Panama Excellence Award for Outstanding Professionals in Telecommunications during COVID-19.

Gina Villafañe shared anecdotes from childhood to becoming the professional she is today.