Attending the IEEE WIE Leadership Summit

Author: Chunmeng Xu.

It was such an amazing experience to get involved in women-oriented leadership summit! From well-organized life story presentations to diversified guidance panels in two mornings, I deeply felt and then believed in the passion, determination and power of women in career.

The most surprising thing I found in this conference is the mobility and diversity of career choices truly existed in those successful women’s lives. The summit chair, prof. Takoi Hamrita, is working as an Electrical Engineering professor in UGA, however, she devoted most of her enthusiasm in building a partnership between UGA and her home country Tunisia, which earned her the National Medals in Science and Education. As a woman in engineering, prof. Hamrita broadened her career by exploring unlimited potential in leadership roles.

During the coffee break, I came up to meet Ms. Chan, a patent agent in Sterne Kessler Goldstein Fox Law Office. She was also a former electrical engineer, but she stopped working to care for the family for totally fifteen years. Just a few years ago, Ms. Chan came back to career, whereas in a completely different field. She said being a lawyer can be challenging, but she is getting control over it.

There are so many outstanding female leaders from academia, industry, entrepreneurship and even nonprofit organizations. They told me to follow my eagerness: “if you don’t do things with purpose, you do it wrong”, they told me to reinvent and redefine myself after some periods of time: “embrace new opportunities”, and they told me to plan for the long term of life: “learn when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’”. I really appreciate them.

Before I went to this conference, I never thought about any diversified career choice for a female PhD graduate, maybe research-teaching combined academic work is the best way to go. To the contrary, now I believe that with this PhD degree in engineering, I have the power to do anything I am passionate at. Obstacles and barriers for female leadership in STEM are still prevalent, but solutions are also obvious: take actions. As juniors, we have enough time and opportunities to face these challenges, and devote to change things into a better side.

Turning aspiration into action, this is what I want to do after this conference. I will resume my personal leadership development in grad life (if my advisor permits this) by getting more involved in organizations like IEEE PES and WECE (of course!). Thank for WECE and Ms. Conrad again to give me such great opportunity!