Our Main Takeaways by IEEE WIE Travel Grant Award Winners
Rachel Reding & Megan Hamilton
On May 21st and 22nd, we were incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the 2018 IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) International Leadership Conference in San Jose, California. Two full days of inspirational speakers, workshops, and opportunities to connect with remarkable women from all over the world – that are changing the world. Below we each detail our main takeaways from the conference.
Rachel Reding, Master’s in Clinical Engineering Candidate 2018
One of the major themes of this conference was to be fearless; the three steps to be fearless were described as speaking up with confidence, saying yes to challenging opportunities and taking risks but asking for what you need. I took my first step to becoming fearless in one of the workshops at the conference when I went to the front of the room full of strangers and gave a speech for several minutes on a random topic. As someone who has a natural introversion and fear of speaking, this really pushed me out of my comfort zone and was one of the best things for my confidence and growth as a professional. Even though they were strangers, the women in the room all fully supported me, no matter if I failed or succeeded at the task, which I think is an important lesson: surround yourself with people who lift you up and support you in your endeavours, and who can catch you if you fall. And most importantly, be fearless!
Megan Hamilton, Master’s in Clinical Engineering Candidate 2019
Over the two days in San Jose, I met women from all over the world: the United States, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and even Saskatoon, Canada! It was fascinating to hear their stories, and share my own with them. We realized we all share the same goal – to become the best, most authentic versions of ourselves as individuals, as engineers, and as leaders, and to support women all over the world in doing the same. This conference reminded us to never stop taking risks, and to avoid getting too “comfortable.” Our lives and careers should always challenge and excite us. One of the main takeaways from this event was the importance of getting young girls excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) early on. To anyone reading this, I encourage you to take on a challenge that was presented to us at the conference: in the next three months, try getting three young girls excited about STEM. This can include anything from a science experiment to mentioning fantastic new developments in the field. Whether they are family members or part of your community, your impact can truly change their outlook.
We are grateful to the many people who supported our attendance at this conference. Thank you to IEEE WIE; the University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering, and Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering; and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and the PROPEL Lab for their generous support in making this trip possible. We are so fortunate to have such a strong network that is invested in our development as leaders and engineers. We look forward to sharing what we have learned and inspiring the next generation of future leaders in STEM.