The theme of the 2021 IEEE WIE ILC was Accelerating Through Change and, in particular, Accelerating Innovating Women Who Change the World.
This year’s IEEE WIE ILC maintained a strong focus on how disruptions stemming from the pandemic have disproportionately impacted women workers—as of February, nearly 3 million women have left the US workforce because of the pandemic, marking a nearly 3% decrease in women’s participation in the economy.
To clearly crystalize this disparity, approximately 5% of women in the US with children between the ages of 2 and 6 have left the workforce over the course of the pandemic compared with about 1% of men.
Globally, women are nearly four times more likely to lose their job permanently because of the pandemic than men.
Featuring more than 120 speakers, including Mae C. Jemison, the first Black woman to travel to space, and Sandra L. Rivera, Executive Vice President of Intel, as keynote speakers, IEEE WIE ILC’s panels and hands-on workshops—with tracks centered on executive leadership, biotech, inclusion, intersectionality, and representation, disruptive tech and innovation, and more—focused heavily on reintegration programs for women who have left the workforce. These “returnship” programs provide women who left the workforce with opportunities to re-enter their respective fields, getting back on their career paths. Such programs provide training and mentoring, which is extremely valuable to women currently out of the workforce.
With returnship opportunities for women needed now more than ever, IEEE WIE ILC is proud to have established a grant program for women aiming to re-enter their respective workforces. The grant program provided recipients with free registration to the 2021 IEEE WIE ILC, enabling them to connect with, and learn from, change makers and global leaders in a variety of different industries.
IEEE WIE also made the 2021 ILC, held virtually, more accessible, by providing grants to members and students.
Moving forward, IEEE WIE plans to continue to provide grants, effectively lowering the barrier to accessibility to its events, both virtual and in-person, to provide women around the world with the tools, knowledge, and insight required to thrive in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world. Future grant opportunities may be posted at a later date on the IEEE WIE ILC website.