The Institute - June 2020 - TI12
Her visibility in the society led to several TV hosting gigs. When producers at
the Discovery cable channel were looking for a host for its two-hour "Zapped"
special about electricity and the human
body, they contacted the society's executive director, who recommended Lazareck-Asunta.
In 2018 and 2019 she
filmed segments for the
Science Channel's "Strange
Evidence" and "NASA's
Unexplained Files" series.
She just finished contributing to the
second season of "Strange Evidence."
Over the years, she has taken on more
IEEE leadership positions. In 2016 and
2017 she served on the IEEE Technical
Activities Board's strategic planning committee, and she is a member of TAB's
committee on diversity and inclusion.
CHANGE THE PROCESS
Last year Lazareck-Asunta was elected
chair of the WIE committee, a two-year
term. One of her goals is to ensure the
group's work is making a difference.
The group's charter is to facilitate the
recruitment and retention of women in
technical disciplines around the world. It
does so by, among other things, forming
new WIE groups, organizing workshops
at major technical conferences, and advocating for women to hold IEEE leadership roles.
Today there are about 16,000 members; men account for more than 28 percent of the total. There are more than
900 WIE groups. The annual leadership conference attracts attendees from
around the globe.
"One of the immediate challenges I
see for WIE is how best to articulate our
impact," Lazareck-Asunta says. "What differences are we-and should we be-
making in changing cultures at the
workplace, within technical fields, and
The committee held a workshop in March person who dictates across the board
to determine what projects were work- what others should be doing about equaling and which ones weren't. The group ity. Systematic, process-driven changes
decided what success would look like and must be made," she says.
established metrics on how to get there.
"The process of finding qualified women
"Lisa has found friends and enthu- speakers is broken," she says. "Consiastic supporters for her ference organizers have to establish a
goals," says IEEE Fellow method for finding these speakers on
Bozenna Pasik-Duncan, their own without relying on one volpast committee chair. "The unteer, such as the WIE representative,
friendship, confidence, who tends to be female. It's everyone's
encouragement, and sup- responsibility to make sure the presenters
port she has found among are representative of our membership."
the top IEEE leaders means the world
Other changes she is pushing for include
to WIE. Lisa represents a new, innova- requiring all conference venues to offer
tive generation of IEEE leaders."
lactation rooms as a standard rather than
Lazareck-Asunta wants to introduce an add-on, and asking conferences to
more of a structure to the WIE committee include information on family-friendly
to make running it more manageable. It hotels on their website as a best practice.
now has 60 people, which includes nine
She is working with the TAB confervoting members-representatives pulled ences committee to create an IEEEfrom IEEE's 39 societies, seven techni- approved grant funding template so if a
cal councils, 10 regions, and five orga- conference has funds, it can cover some
travel expenses for attendees to bring
"WIE is a beast in the best possible way- caregivers for their children, aides for
every organizational unit within IEEE elderly parents they must travel with, or
wants to contribute," Lazareck-Asunta helpers for those with disabilities.
says. "In as much as our committee is
"I don't care if you are a man or a woman
enormous, the burden on me is also enor- looking after your child, parent, or yourmous. I am just one chair, so at times it self and you need travel support so that
feels like all the IEEE issues around gen- you can be included in an IEEE event,
der fall on my shoulders."
you should be able to get it," LazareckTo that end, she has told IEEE's top Asunta says. "It shouldn't be a case of
leaders that increasing diversity isn't just knowing the right people to contact."
an issue for her or for female engineers
More people would attend conferences
but should be an objective for everyone. if they knew such funding was available,
"I read a fitting quote from Dr. Gigi Osler she says, adding that she would like to
in an interview with UM Today. She is the see diversity discussed in larger conferfirst female surgeon and woman of color ence events, like keynote lectures, in
to be named president of the Canadian addition to luncheons.
"IEEE can be that change-maker," she
Medical Association-which inspires me.
'The end goal isn't achieving diversity. It says. "We have incredible leadership and
isn't achieving equity,' Osler said. 'The technical prowess, and reach across the
end goal is inclusion, where everyone globe. Let's make a difference."
feels supported and respected, working -KATHY PRETZ
together for positive change.'"
This article originally appeared online
Lazareck-Asunta says "people are as "Lisa Lazareck-Asunta, IEEE's Women in
now realizing that it can't just be one Engineering Chair, is Just Getting Started."
The Institute - June 2020
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