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The annual IEEE Women in Engineering Beijing Leadership Summit (WIEBLS) was held last November, bringing together inspirational women engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs from all walks of life to share their insights on how to best empower women in engineering.

The theme of WIEBLS 2021, “Reshape WIE Network for Sustainable Development,” provided an international and open platform. The platform focused on fostering multicultural communication and international technology cooperation and innovation, which are critical to empowering the next generation of women in engineering.

Kicking off the summit, Ning Hua, Senior Director of IEEE Asia Operations, reinforced IEEE’s commitment to both the professional and educational advancement of women in STEM globally.

Knowledge, confidence, and “ShePower” in leadership

One of the recurring themes throughout WIEBLS 2021 was the value add that women in engineering provide, as the advantages of gender inclusivity are reflected in better team creativity and cooperation, as well as more diverse thinking.

Simay Akar, IEEE WIE Türkiye Section Chair 2020, shined a light on her research in support of the global energy transition to show how women in engineering can tap into their own strengths to drive innovation and the development of technology.

Similarly, IEEE Fellow Sharon Peng highlighted how critical it is for women in engineering to consistently absorb new knowledge while maintaining confidence in their ability to innovate. Celina Shanaz, IEEE WIE Committee Chair-Elect 2022, echoed Peng’s perspective, noting that women in engineering should make a habit of absorbing new knowledge regularly to add to their professional value. She also stressed the importance of maintaining one’s confidence.

Other IEEE women in engineering shared their insights on what female leaders should be based on their own experiences, as well as how female leaders have the capacity to empower other women.

Min Wu, IEEE Signal Processing Society President-Elect 2022-2023, addressed this during her keynote speech: “Women in engineering should first establish their outstanding strength in the professional field and then proactively make a positive impact on others by participating in the professional community. Through the development of communication and leadership skills, female engineers could gradually take greater responsibilities step by step.”

Empowering the next generation of women in engineering

IEEE has a long history of working to empower younger generations in STEM.

WIEBLS 2021 was no different, as the summit concluded with the “Next-Generational Dialogue for STEM” panel, which provided six teenagers interested in STEM the opportunity to engage with several of IEEE’s leading women in engineering.

As the young students discussed the ways that STEM education has affected their lives positively, IEEE’s leading women in engineering provided them with actionable ,personalized insight on how to best pursue their STEM-focused ambitions.

The next generation of women in engineering will be critical, as women continue to occupy more elevated positions in social and economic development through scientific and technological innovation. These conversations provide the leaders of tomorrow with a great opportunity to learn from today’s luminaries.