The Institute - September 2019 - 9

sented groups can be different in the United States compared
with Asia, Europe, and other parts of the world.
It also encompasses age. There has been a movement to
attract more young professionals to IEEE-and to make sure
they are fully engaged and provided compelling benefits-
because they are the future of the organization.
Inclusion is making sure all these diverse members are
getting the full benefits of membership. One of the most
important things is to collect diversity metrics so we know
where we are as an organization, and publish these metrics.
You can't make improvements or set diversity goals if you don't
know where you are. The metrics could include things like
diversity in leadership roles across all of IEEE and within its
societies and councils. That is very important. We also want
to look at mechanisms that improve diversity and outcomes
in programs such as awards and Fellows.

What is your interest in leading the committee?
I've been a champion of diversity and inclusion pretty much
my entire career because I believe diversity in my profession
will lead to better technology and better benefits to humanity from it.
I was the first woman president of the IEEE Information
Theory Society. I also founded the society's student committee to make sure the society was more inclusive of younger
members and people with diverse backgrounds.
I got more formally involved in IEEE's diversity and inclusion
issues when I chaired the selection committee for nominees
for the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal. That was the first
time I saw data on IEEE award recipients such as gender and
geographic diversity. I realized that women and people from
specific IEEE regions were rarely nominated for
major awards, and I felt I had to do something
about that.

the Technical Activities Board. It was made a standing committee in 2017, and I was appointed its chair. That's what led
him to appoint me to this IEEE Board-level ad hoc committee.

Did the IEEE Technical Activities
ad hoc committee make progress?
It did, but of course there's a lot more progress to be made. It
was successful in raising the visibility about the issues of diversity and inclusion, not just within TAB but across all of IEEE.
The committee discovered that many of the issues around
diversity and inclusion are IEEE-wide. Groups such as the
TAB and IEEE Women in Engineering are doing parallel or
complementary efforts, but they can't change all of IEEE.
Having a board-appointed ad hoc committee that can look
at diversity and inclusion across the organization is valuable.
I was involved in the TAB reaffirmation of the IEEE's Code
of Conduct and Code of Ethics, and then other operating
units also reaffirmed those statements.
Many members aren't aware of these codes. There was a
sense that abiding by these codes should be a condition of
membership, so making them more visible and having more
discussion around them is important.
Why was ethics grouped in with
diversity and inclusion?
That's an interesting question, because ethics is not part of the
charter of the TAB committee I chaired. But as that committee
uncovered issues around diversity and inclusion that needed
to be addressed in IEEE, we found that ethics was key in making those improvements.
For example, when women engineers are excluded from
participating in IEEE leadership roles, or being
invited to be distinguished lecturers and speakers
at conferences, that means they're not getting the
full benefit of membership. When you talk about
implicit bias or more severe things that women deal
with, such as sexual harassment, that discourages
members from participating.
Abiding by the codes of ethics and conduct
became especially important after the National
Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released
a report in November about the sexual harassment women
have faced in the scientific, technical, and medical workforce
and its impact on their career advancement. The study talked
about the role that professional societies can play in mitigating
such incidents by requiring ethical behavior in society activities and events. The committee will also look into effective
mechanisms to educate and support members regarding safe,
ethical, and sustainable technology design and deployment.
You can't separate out diversity and inclusion from ethics,
so it became apparent that ethics should be addressed by the
ad hoc committee.

is more
than just

What did you do?
My Bell Medal committee went about getting more
women nominated as well as more candidates
from countries that are geographically underrepresented. Also, during a discussion with the IEEE
medals committee about why a specific female nominee didn't
win, I raised what I thought were issues of implicit bias in the
committee's discussions.
The chair asked me to work with him to write a document
for the IEEE Awards Board on implicit bias. That document
is now distributed to all IEEE committee chairs and boards
working on award nominations. The Awards Board also formed
a Diversity Task Force, which developed a formal diversity
statement. This year four women and nine people outside the
United States received IEEE medals and recognitions. While
I don't know if there is a direct correlation, I consider that
outcome a very positive development.
When IEEE President José M.F. Moura was Technical Activities vice president in 2016, he appointed me to chair an ad
hoc committee on diversity and inclusion that reported to

This article originally appeared online as "Q&A With Chair of New Ad Hoc
Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Ethics."


SEP 2019



The Institute - September 2019

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