Society of Engineers-UAE supported the IEEE Women in Engineering Leadership Summit 2016, held on 13 October at American University of Dubai. Under the theme “Beyond Boundaries”, the summit gathered key figures and STEM engineers from around the world. The summit focused on Inspiration, Leadership, Empowerment and Innovation aiming to bring together a global gathering of women in technology who aim to inspire, engage and empower other women.
The summit was opened by AUD President Dr. Lance E. de Masi who was welcomed by the summit chair, Dr. Boutheina Tlili. The event featured engaging speakers with real life examples, including HE Dr. Eesa Bastaki, HE Dr. Maryam Matar, and Eng. Sultan Al-Hajji. Topics addressed included the current state of women in STEMS and engineering in particular, both globally and in the UAE, and ways to encourage more women to pursue a career in STEMS & engineering.
Dr. de Masi highlighted that such an event taking place at the AUD campus was a reflection of the institutional support and positive attitude towards gender equality. He highlighted that in the last two years, one-half of AUD’s Emirati graduates in engineering have been female; and almost 75% of AUD’s math and science faculty are women.
H.E. Dr. Eesa Bastaki, President – University of Dubai took to the stage as the keynote speaker where he stressed the importance of investment in education to close the gap in the gender disparity. He urged delegates not to be stagnant but to continuously innovate. He echoed the sentiments of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan who once said “if we invest in education now, then after 50 years we will be able to celebrate when we export the last barrel of oil.”
Christine Dal Bello, Public Affairs Officer at the US Consulate General Dubai spoke on behalf of H.E. Ambassador Barbara Leaf, US Ambassador to the UAE, acknowledging the gender gap that exists today with women comprising only 12% of the engineering field and 26% of the computing field in the US. She emphasized the US government’s dedication to encourage women to join and remain in STEM-related fields through academics and professional tracks.
The event welcomed distinguished guest speakers Her Excellency Dr. Maryam Matar, Genetic Diseases Association (UAEGDA) UAE, MD Founder & Chairperson, who gave an inspiring speech on leadership skills for women, and Sultan Al-Hajji, Total E&P UAE, Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, who presented on the way forward to diverse and inclusive workplaces.
The second half of the summit was filled with a notable line up of panels with industry experts leading discussions on leadership, empowerment, innovation and new trends in technology, and inspiration.
The summit offered a unique opportunity to share valuable experiences and the exchange of ideas in the Middle East and throughout the world between the audience of industry professionals, academics, and students.