Ana Cigarán Romero speaks at IEEE Region 8 Today and inspires us
The Chair of IEEE Region 8 Women in Engineering , Ana Cigarán Romero shares inspiration and motivation about women and young girls to get closer with engineering and technology
A woman, a mother, an engineer, an IEEE volunteer. It sounds like a variety of skills are required to manage everything. Would you share with us your secret recipe?
I am currently on maternity leave. Becoming a mother has changed my priorities in life. You are able to further develop yourself, to growth in your career, to continue volunteering and to meet your friends or to do yoga. Nevertheless, ensuring that the baby is happy is always the first priority and all the rest (even yourself) goes after that. Therefore, when the baby sleeps and you have some “free” time, you could either lay down on the sofa and relax (sometimes really necessary!) or start “producing” for IEEE or brainstorm on my future tasks when starting to work again as an engineer in some months. Whereas I admit that it can sometimes be tiring, I generally chose for the second as moving things further always brings me a lot of personal satisfaction.
My secret recipe: believe in yourself and in what you are doing, set priorities and forget about what is irrelevant for you, have an excellent time management while forgetting at the same time about what the time is when you care about your family (that’s a tricky one!), use the moment as you never know what can happen next or if you will have the time and opportunity for doing something, network as much as you can and ensure to be supported by people that believe in you.
Would you say that more women start to get closer with technology oriented professions?
Making a brief analysis through Europe, I have experienced that there are countries where the number of women involved in technology is almost the same as men (Spain, France), whereas in other countries (Germany, Austria) there is a very slow progress in the number of women involved in technology, especially as an engineer- what does not mean being a lawyer or recruiter working for a company with a focus on technology, what is currently the case. We are therefore largely missing out on women’s intelligence, creativity, and values in solving the problems we all face.
Which is your opinion about STEAM education? Do you think girls should be closer with STEAM education?
STEAM education is in my eyes the modern way of how Aristoteles was exploring the world in ancient Greece. Personally I would have loved that, when I started my education at university, there would have been a degree compiling STEM and arts together, as it was very difficult for me to choose between all these very interesting fields. In the current world, where a multidisciplinary perspective is needed in the daily business, STEAM education exposes students to the creative process: it provides a unique way to problem-solve while increasing at the same time critical thinking and showing a different way to value the arts.
I believe that this way can be one of the keys to encourage girls to explore STEM fields. I strongly encourage female students to explore science and engineering as we cannot afford to lose anyone with the technical skills to create a sustainable future, improve health, build our cyber and physical infrastructure, and enhance personal and societal security. A diverse set of minds needs to tackle those problems!
Does IEEE helped you in your professional life?
I joined IEEE in 2013 when I was already a graduate working for my current employer. It was actually after participating in an IEEE PES General Meeting representing my company (50Hertz), where I got fascinated by the interesting technical sessions and participants joining from all over the world. This was the start of my volunteering journey in IEEE. Thus, without my job I would probably not have joined IEEE and thanks to my current position in the company I have been able to contribute with my know-how in the IEEE European Public Policy initiative. At the same time, without IEEE, I wouldn’t have joined plenty of conferences, congresses and events, what has permitted me not only extending my technical knowledge but also extending my network of amazing engineers around the world. Volunteering for IEEE has also further developed my communication and presentation skills as well as my excellent time management, as I am not doing fewer things but better distributing the time in order to be able to manage being a mother, an engineer and a committed volunteer.
What do you wish other people knew about IEEE WIE?
IEEE WIE does not only make a great effort in promoting women engineers in their career, but also pushes the visibility of women (e.g. speakers in conferences) and organizes talks and debates about relevant discussion topics on a big variety of topics closely linked to women engineers such as the (not yet) existing equality between women and men, the visibility problem of women engineers or how to increase the number of females with technical background.
Closing question: Why would you suggest to someone to become an IEEE member and an active volunteer?
From my perspective, you only become a full IEEE member when you start volunteering for this organization and, by this, get the essence of IEEE and its mission of advancing technology for humanity and the profession, only possible by an amazing network of committed engineers around the world. The effort of volunteering is compensated by meeting and getting to learn amazing people within IEEE. I especially enjoy the positivity that always surrounds the teams working in the organization of a certain initiative or event.
Talking about IEEE WIE, the field I am currently leading in IEEE, I am convinced about the work that IEEE WIE is doing in supporting women in their career and in inspiring young girls and students to further explore the path of STEM. I decided to become a WIE member to actively push this great work and to get to know other amazing women engineers around the world.