WICE Event at GLOBECOM 2022: Promoting Visibility of Women Communications Engineers and Their Professional Profi les

By Baek-Young Choi - Chair of the WICE Standing Committee, Bige Bige Deniz Ünlütürk - WICE Publicity Chair, Lianet Mendez-Monsanto Suarez - WICE Student Travel Award Recipient and Rute C. Sofia - WICE Industry Relation Deputy

IEEE ComSoc Women in Communications Engineering (WICE) is a ComSoc Standing Committee dedicated to promoting the visibility and roles of women in communications engineering. A WICE event was held over two afternoons, on December 5th and 6th, 2022 during the 2022 IEEE Global Communications Conference (GLOBECOM) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It offered a place to connect and enrich professional growth.

The event included several sessions of technical discussions and professional development. The first day began with a welcome message from WICE chair Baek-Young Choi, followed by a technical panel on 6G and a mentoring event. The second day included a panel on professional and academic experience in ComSoc and a professional career coaching session.

Panel 1: “Large-Scale Sensing 6G IoT Services Towards Society, Challenges and Drivers”

The speakers in the first panel were Neeli Prasad (SmartAvatar B.V, NL), Marja Matinmikko-Blue (Oulu Univ, Finland), Peiying Zhu (Huawei, USA) and Eduardo Cerqueira (Federal University of Pará, Brazil), moderated by Rute C. Sofia (fortiss, Germany). The topic of this panel was the deployment of large-scale sensing 6G IoT services. These 6G services are expected to be implemented over the next decade and promise to contribute to the future needs of society. To do so, different communications and sensing technologies must be integrated and coexist to deliver services related to immersive communications and the “Internet of Everything,” i.e., the application of IoT in a complete and constant mode. The speakers gave an overview of the main challenges and drivers to be able to deliver these services to society in the coming years.

Joint WICE/YP Mentoring Program Session: The Power of a Mentor/Mentee Partnership

Mentoring program session, groups (left), Xuemin (Sherman) Shen (center), Ana García Armada (right)

A mentoring program session was jointly organized by WICE, the Young Professionals (YP) of ComSoc and the Member & Geographic Activities Council (MGA-C). The organizers were Baek-Young Choi (WICE chair, University of Missouri – Kansas City, USA), Periklis Chatzimisios (YP chair, International Hellenic University, Greece and University of New Mexico, USA) and Newman Wilson (IEEE ComSoc MSB MVRC on Mentoring Co-Chair).

The invited mentors were people with extensive experience in various fields. We had the pleasure of having a wide list of mentors, Ana García Armada (WICE Past-Chair, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain), Wendi Heinzelman (University of Rochester, USA), Neeli Prasad (SmartAvatar B.V, NL), Damla Turgut (University of Central Florida, USA), Bige Deniz Ünlütürk (Michigan State University, USA), Yessica Saez (Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá), Robert Schober (Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany), Ashutosh Dutta (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and IEEE Future Networks Initiative, USA), Ekram Hossain (Samsung AI Center Montreal, Canada), Luca Foschini (University of Bologna, Italy), Michele Polese (Northeastern University, USA) and Dan Lewis (LCRA, USA).

First, an introduction of the activity was given with the participation of ComSoc BoG Xuemin (Sherman) Shen (President of ComSoc), Ana García Armada (Vice President MGA of ComSoc) and the organizers of the session. After this, multiple parallel mentoring sessions were organized in small groups in rotation, in a close and interactive way. Participants were able to meet and talk with mentors, ask questions about their academic and professional careers, and receive advice for career growth. It was also a great opportunity for early researchers to network and connect with each other.

Panel 2: “Growing with ComSoc: From Student Member to Fellow”

In the second panel, the invited speakers presented their experiences and opportunities they had as members of IEEE ComSoc at different stages of their academic and professional careers. The panelists were Mallellu Sai Prashanth (Tech Mahindra/Vardhaman College of Engineering, India), Michele Nogueira (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil) and Rose Hu (Utah State University, USA), moderated by Juliana Freitag Borin (University of Campinas, Brazil) and Dianne Scherly Varela de Medeiros (Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil). The speakers were at diverse stages of their IEEE ranks, and talked about their personal career journey and special opportunities they had as IEEE members from their early days as students, their first times attending a WICE event, Globecom, etc. In addition to learning about the latest technologies and research, they explained how their involvements in the IEEE Society have given them more opportunities of involvements, helped them making friends with other members, and led them to achieve their goals, and fulfill their ambition.

Professional Career Coaching

We had a blast with Dr. Grace Lee, from Mastery Insights, Canada, as the speaker in the professional career coaching sessions. She is an international executive career coach. She is also a neuroscientist, researcher, and student of life, and her studies and passion have made her a leading expert on activating leadership and performance potential.

In the first professional career coaching session “Session 1: Communication Authority Masterclass,” entitled “how to demonstrate confidence, competence, and command to the toughest audiences along your career path,” she highlighted that most people focus on developing technical skills, and often ignore the importance of “softer” skills, such as the ability to communicate effectively. She outlined various techniques to converse and convey your message and showed the importance of this in the work environment.

In the second session, “Session 2: Activating Leadership,” described as “how to build inspired teams that stay engaged and in momentum even if this is your first time leading,” she taught how to empower and awake leadership and why this is essential in our professional careers. Dr. Grace Lee was an excellent communicator, staying close to the audience at all times, both those present in person and those connected remotely, asking them to turn on the camera and interacting with them. She listened carefully to the attendees’ questions and explained very useful ideas. Attendees stated that this was one of Globecom’s best events.

Final Remarks

Fortunately, it has been noted that the number of female attendees in GLOBECOM has especially increased compared to previous events. One of the participants pointed out that, at her first conference as a Ph.D. student (one of the past GLOBECOMs about 20 years ago), she did not see attendees as diverse as they are now. She is very happy to see that there are many more women today compared to those years, when she was one of the few. Another participant expressed that she was excited this year to see more women engineers, unlike years ago when she was the only one among hundreds of people. Certainly, we must continue to promote the visibility and roles of women in this area, as there is still a shortage of female engineers. One of the mentors’ advice to the attending women mentees was to “be loud and speak up, let the last person in the back of the room hear you.”

Special acknowledgement is made to IEEE ComSoc and WICE, it has been a pleasure to have this WICE event, which has been rewarding and inspirational. We hope to see you at the next ones!

Baek-Young Choi, WICE Chair (right), and Ana García Armada, VP MGA (left), with two WICE Student Travel Grant Recipients Giulia Torcolacci and Lianet Mendez