Launch of Women’s Network Cigre UK
Over 50 delegates attended the workshops and 62 delegates were present for the senior leader’s presentations and networking event
Dr. Biljana Stojkovska, First Chair of Women’s Network Cigre UK
In this article I would like to share with you the story of the event of the Women’s Network Cigre UK. It was a very vibrant event full of great ladies whose contributions to the day gave me one of my proudest moments in my career as a female engineer.
The event was very successful; Over 50 delegates attended the workshops and 62 delegates were present for the senior leader’s presentations and networking event following the workshops. There was a huge demand to attend the event so we even had a waiting list of additional attendees in case of last minute drop-outs.
At the reception waiting for delegates to arrive, left to right: Helen, Rachel, Biljana and Sade
The event targeted mainly female delegates who were invited from the list of CIGRE UK collective members. Each lead representative of the collective member proposed one female delegate from their company to attend the event. In this way we were able to achieve a guaranteed number of delegates for the event and also the delegates had support from their companies to attend the event.
At the start, I delivered a speech to inspire the ladies for the day. Then three workshop sessions were conducted where we focused on Mentoring, Networking and Career development.
The theme that delegates voted as the main topic for 2016 was the mentoring (not a surprise), followed by networking and career development.
Wrapping up the workshop results, left to right: Biljana,Gabriella and Adam
Immediately after the meeting we got to work on the follow up and our first success was establishing a platform for the Mentoring Forum in the CIGRE Knowledge Management System (Confluence). We would like to create a forum where women in engineering can go to for encouragement, advice and support when they need to.
Our three keynote speakers were outstanding: delivering speeches which leave me with most vivid memories.
Naomi Climer, as president of the IET, is such an inspirational and excellent speaker. She rightly pointed out that engineering has an image problem, and that is the branding exercise that needs to be done, and a reason why many women engineers are just drifting away into more female oriented jobs. She did say that unconscious bias is difficult to fight against, but she also said that the CIGRE initiative is a great one and is a one worth fighting for, not only for attracting girls but also for nurturing the talent that already exists in the sector.
Gwen-Parry Jones from EDF, another inspirational speaker suggested that when we stand on the career cross road asking ourselves where to go, one should follow ones heart and choose where you know you will enjoy the work. She said it is our professional responsibility to join the professional institutions which will add to our edge of the profession. She urged us to be flexible and to look outside the rigid career planning, because flexibility is important. She said to survive in the stereotype engineering profession you need to have a sense of humour and to be as authentic as you can be.
Sarah Williamson from Laing O'Rourke, shared her amazing career story and she said that diversity must be an ultimate goal for any engineering company.
Invited speakers in action
Naomi Climer, Sarah Williamson & Gwen Parry - Jones
We all agreed the gender equality in engineering is the right thing to do. And it’s also a smart thing to do. When companies leverage the power of diversity, companies and teams perform better. They are more innovative and bring more revenue and profits. What amazing solutions are we missing out on simply because we are not tapping in to the talent of women?
Our speakers gave us a feeling that engineering jobs are exciting, fast moving and fun. They are also wide – ranging. If you want to have an impact on society then being in engineering is a way to do that. Today, everybody needs engineering, society needs engineers, and engineering needs women.
The next big initiative is “CIGRE Women in Engineering Forum” at the Cigre Session in Paris on 25th August from 11:00 to 14:00. Room 252AB. Please get involved and find more information about the event on Cigre web site (www.cigre.org).