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On International Women’s Day, Spotlighting
7+7 Women in Antennas and Propagation

By Maria Athanasiou and Konstantina S. Nikita

International Women’s Day is an opportunity for highlighting the outstanding work of women engineers across the globe who contribute in transforming the world with their incredible achievements, but are also paving the way for the next generation of women in science and technology. As reflected in the theme for the 2023 United Nations Observance of International Women’s Day “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, women are championing research and innovation by making remarkable contributions which have greater potential for more creative solutions that promote gender equality.

Women have played a pivotal role in the creation of critical structures and machines before the term “engineer” was coined in the 11th century. However, fields, such as engineering, have been largely kept shut from women and other underrepresented groups. Although educational institutions did not admit women until the early 1800s and restricted women’s admission only to traditionally “female” fields, this never deterred women from participating in the engineering sector and making untold contributions. Today, in high tech, women make up only 30 percent of employees, and fewer occupy engineering roles. The statistics for other underrepresented groups are even more grim. Even though a persistent gender gap is identified currently in engineering and technology, women take the lead in solving some of today’s toughest challenges. Closing the existing gender gap is considered essential to addressing the lack of diversity in technology and engineering and unlocking the full innovation potential in these fields.

To celebrate the International Women’s Day, at the IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation we honor women who are paving the way in engineering sciences and within the antennas and propagation field and have contributed in transforming the field.

In this milieu, we first revisit the profiles of seven leading female figures in radio and electrical science as captured in the article entitled “Early Women of Radio and Electrical Science”, co-authored by Trevor S. Bird and Francesca Vipiana, which was published in the October 2022 issue of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine. These women made pioneering contributions in areas such as radar, radio astronomy, and mathematical tables, which have had lasting impact and allowed antennas to be designed or utilized antennas with particular characteristics.

We bridge the inspiring profiles of these pioneer women with the accomplishments and future potential of seven outstanding women engineers of today from across the antennas and propagation field, who have been recipients of the IEEE Lot Shafai Mid-Career Distinguished Achievement Award*. We highlight their work in the IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation and share some brief information about them and what inspires them to advance technology.

*The IEEE Lot Shafai Mid-Career Distinguished Achievement Award has been established by the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society to recognize the past technical accomplishments and future potential of an outstanding woman of mid-career status in the field of antennas and propagation. Eligible nominees consist of women who are members of the IEEE and are less than 41 years of age, whose prior technical accomplishments and future potential earmark them as current and future leaders in the field of antennas and propagation, as well as role models for future generations of women in the field.
Special thanks to Trevor Bird and Francesco Andriulli for allowing us to reuse content from the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine.

Hertha Aryton
Florence Violet McKenzie
Elisabeth Alexander
Elisabeth Laverick
Elisabeth Audrey Killick
Irene Peden

“…it is time that we utilize the capabilities and creative talents of our women, and recognize that they constitute the missing half of our technical potential.”

Irene C. Peden
IEEE Spectrum, April 1968

Martha Martinez

“I love challenges, and engineering gives me the opportunity to solve new problems with every project. I get to contribute to new products, to improved systems, which make our lives easier. In my current position, I feel I am also contributing to make our lives safer with advanced radar technologies for cars. I also love the creative component of engineering. I get to develop something from an idea to a real-life product. This is very satisfying and motivates me every single day.”

Research by Marta published in IEEE TAP
Francesca Vipiana

“My main guide is the curiosity in all physical phenomena and technologies. When I was a very young student at primary and high schools, I was always asking questions to teachers and parents on “Why is it working like this?”. And then, my university choice was engineering and my questions moved to “How can I do this and improve it?”. Finally, curiosity is still what is driving my current research work toward advancements in technologies development.”

Research by Francesca published in IEEE TAP
Diane Titz

“I have always wanted to understand everything from the phenomena that surround us to their origins that sometimes are not primarily accessible. Throughout history that has been possible thanks to technology breakthroughs. It is then logical to me to continue in this endeavour to advance technology. The perks are that every day you get to learn new things, understand them, confront fields or associate them. This quest is unlimited and one could hope that one's contribution will serve one day.”

Research by Diane published in IEEE TAP
Eva Antonino

“I have been always curious about technology in general and wireless communications systems in particular. The interest of using technology to solve human problems and make the world a better place has been always inspiring my research life, as I believe that advances in technology have the potential to create new opportunities and transform entire industries. My research in antenna technology for different applications (satellite communication, radar systems, mobile communication, and wireless networks) stems from the desire to improve the performance and capabilities of modern communication systems, enable new applications, and solve real-world problems.”

Research by Eva published in IEEE TAP
Jasemina Simpson

“People have always been interested in understanding the unknown and in developing new tools and technologies. Although, growing up, I never imagined that I could contribute to the advancement of technology myself. I also never considered getting an advanced degree that would allow me to pursue a research career until I met my future Ph.D. advisor. His enthusiasm for advancing science was obvious, and it was this enthusiasm that motivated me to seek a professorship. Ultimately, I think I am most inspired to advance technology in order to make positive contributions to society and to help people.”

Research by Jamesina published in IEEE TAP
Emily Porter

“I was first inspired to work in this field because of my dad, who was always designing and building new tools to improve the convenience of everyday life. As I grew up, I experienced incredible advances in medicine and the world-changing internet and wireless revolution. Now, I want to play an active role in progressing RF and microwave medical technologies to improve the lives of the next generation. I'm excited to see what amazing technologies we can develop and eager to apply them to support patients, particularly those with previously unaddressed health conditions and challenges.”

Research by Emily published in IEEE TAP
Yong Mei Pan

“I am inspired by the sense of satisfaction, achievement, and self-identity brought by conducting and completing innovative research work.”

Research by Yong Mei published in IEEE TAP

Discover more articles by Yong Mei here.