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Women-in-STEM at IEEE Photonics Global Conference (PGC)

Women in STEM

Shagufta Naureen and Qin Wang

On Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023, an event titled ’More Women-in-STEM for a Greener World’ was organized at the KTH AlbaNova campus in Stockholm, Sweden. The event was arranged as a part of the PCG2023 conference, PGC 2023. The IEEE Photonics Society sponsored the event, and we are very grateful for the possibility of applying for the grant that was guided by Lisa Sandt and Lauren Mecum from the IEEE Photonics Society. There were about 80 people who participated in the event, see a photo below. Although it was an academic event, people from industry joined the event as well.


This event was organized by RISE AB, Coherent Corp., and IEEE Photonics Sweden Chapter based on long-term experience in the famous IEEE Women in Photonics (WIP) initiative. The event had a dual purpose: not only to promote women in STEM but also to provide a platform for discussing and advocating for a larger workforce that would enhance the global transition toward a greener future. Part of this broader objective was to encourage greater participation of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fields. To accomplish this, seven highly accomplished female

professionals with strong backgrounds in academia, industry, and the business realm were invited to share their unique perspectives on how to approach environmental challenges from multiple angles.

The event was chaired jointly by Dr. Qin Wang from RISE AB and Dr. Shagufta Naureen from Coherent Corp., and they led the panel discussions as well. The event started with a welcome and opening introduction by Dr. Qin Wang, RISE AB. Following the short introduction by Dr. Shagufta Naureen, each panelist was invited to share more about themselves, including their professional journey, experiences, and areas of passion within the STEM field.

Åsa Claesson, Senior Scientist at RISE and Chair of PhotonicSweden

Prof. Lena Wosinska, Research Professor at Chalmers University

Prof. Katia Gallo, Professor of Applied Physics at KTH

Hedda Malm, Quality and HSE manager Alfa Laval

Dr. Marie Delmas, Development Engineer at IRnova AB

Dr. Elena Vasileva, Global Product Manager Cobolt AB

Prof. Xiaoyi Bao, Physics Department, University of Ottawa, Canada

The session seamlessly transitioned into a panel discussion, with the conversation centered around the following key questions.

  1. What is the connection of your work/field with advanced green technology nowadays to help the climate-neutral process and to boost the benefits for society?
  2. Why can a more women workforce provide more contribution in your field?
  3. How can you best alert an organization to a problem surrounding a lack of inclusion or diversity?
  4. How could we team ALL including Women and Men together to have a joint force to make our world greener and more sustainable in terms of human and natural resources?
  5. How would you/we promote and encourage the school students to embrace STEM, especially for girls and young female students?
  6. How could you/we explain the importance to them, a greener world would be beneficial to their future?
  7. How would you provide supervision and guidance to help the students, especially for the female students to overcome their challenges during their education journey at university/colleges?
  8. How could you/we make an effort to reduce or avoid “the leaky pipeline” for the young generation of female researchers/engineers/students during their STEM careers?
  9. What is the best career advice you’ve ever received? And what advice would you give an early career woman or student in the profession?
  10. What has been the biggest challenge or risk you have taken in your career?

The panelists not only discussed the tangible ways in which STEM fields contribute to a greener world but also highlighted their own contribution to environmental sustainability. Their personal stories highlighting the challenges they have overcome and the successes they have achieved can inspire and
empower young women to pursue STEM Careers- and contribute to a greener and more sustainable world.
It was an inclusive discussion where the audience was asked to participate, and their engagement was highly encouraging. What became evident during the conversation was the enthusiastic support of male colleagues who expressed their eagerness to collaborate and work alongside their female colleagues in driving the transition towards a greener and more sustainable world.


At the end of the event, an inspiring video clip was shared with the audience by Dr. Shagufta Naureen. This video was sent by Assoc. Professor Sudha Mokkapati from Monash University, Melbourne who couldn’t attend the event in person, conveyed a powerful message encouraging and motivating young women to pursue STEM. As a call to action during the event’s conclusion, all attendees and panelists were encouraged to contribute short video clips sharing their personal stories and insights. These clips are meant to tackle the ‘leaky pipeline’ challenge by offering encouragement and support to young individuals especially females considering a path in STEM, emphasizing the significance of their engagement in building a more sustainable future.

In addition, some panelists met at the PCG2023 reception at Stockholm City Hall on the evening of Aug. 22, they met and introduced each other, and exchanged their thoughts on green technology where we need to have more joint strength including all working forces covering various diversities. Dr. Qin Wang and Dr. Elena Vasileva also took the opportunity to introduce and present the Women-in-STEM activities to Sara Stenudd, 2nd Vice President of the City Council in Stockholm, who gave the welcome speech to the PGC2023 participants during the conference reception. Sara Stenudd expressed welcoming more discussion on this topic and would like to provide support for our future related activities, especially for encouraging the promotion of more STEM activities to schools and different public sectors.

Here we would like to thank the support of  Dr. Xiaodang Pang and Dr. Rafael Puerta from the IEEE Photonics Sweden Chapter, both are the Chairs of PGC2023.