Life of the association

Embracing change and overcoming barriers – The 4th CIGRE Women in Engineering Forum 2020

The 4th CIGRE Women in Engineering (WiE) Forum was successfully held on 28th August 2020 during the CIGRE e-Session. “Embracing change and overcoming barriers” was the theme of this year. The event was organised by the CIGRE WiE Network led by Khayakazi DIOKA from Eskom, South Africa and the CIGRE Central Office.

By Gen LI, Khayakazi DIOKA, and Tara-lee MacARTHUR

More than 160 participants from all over the world attended the live session. There were not only female participants but also many male participants in the event. The forum consisted of four sessions: Opening Address, CIGRE WiE National Committee Feedback, Keynote Speech and Panel Discussion.


The event started with the Opening Addresses from Rob STEPHEN the CIGRE President. He made a presentation of Women in Engineering – Importance for CIGRE. Khayakazi DIOKA the CIGRE WiE International Chair made a presentation summarizing the WiE statistics. Speakers from WePOWER (South Asia Women in Power Sector Professional Network) shared their views of how do the drivers for sustainability, digitization and automation affect your organization’s growth and what is your organization doing to attract, retain and promote the top female engineers and leaders. Ruomei Li the Chair of IEEE PES Women in Power shared the WiP approach in embracing change and overcoming barrier within the IEEE PES structure. The moderators of this session were Alaa Alkiyumi (WiE GCC) and Gen Li (WiE Secretariate).

Following the Opening Addresses, the National Committees from Brazil, Croatia, France, Russia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA and Australia provided feedback about their activities and achievement in recent years. There are currently 19 CIGRE national committee WiE forums, which makes it 32% of the NC population. 


In the session of Keynote Speech, the speaker comes from Israel, a Minister of Strategic Affairs, MK, Orit Farkash – Hacohen. She described how the current COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity to encourage more women to become engineers in general and electric engineers in particular. Khayakazi DIOKA was the moderator of this session.

The Panel Discussion was host by Claire LAJOIE-MAZENC the CIGRE WiE France Chair. The panellists of this session were Olga FROLOVA the CIGRE WiE Russia Chair, Elizabeth LaROSE the CIGRE WiE US Chair, Susanne STJERNFELDT the CIGRE WiE Sweden Chair and Alexandra KHALYASMAA the Associate Professor at Ural Federal University Russia. The co-moderators of this session were Mani Chopra and Gen Li. The speakers shared their idea and experience in many aspects. For instance, what is the meaning “Change”, how women can embrace changes in their organizations, how to overcome barriers, what a women in engineering forum means for young engineers. Then, the speakers answered the questions from the audience and had excellent discussion and interaction.

In the end, Khayakazi DIOKA summarised the forum and thanked all organisers. Our role models explored and discussed the importance of diversity, recommended strategies, and future considerations. Thanks to their contributions, this year’s CIGRE WiE e-Session was wonderful and successful. We believe that we can do better for embracing change and overcoming barriers for the future.


Illustration credit: Thumbnail by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash - A Coruña (Spain)


Life of Association

The ELECTRA 'Life of the Association' section offers the latest on our people and events from across the 94 countries in CIGRE's global community.

Top of page