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Women in power and energy research in Denmark

IEEE PES Women in Power, Denmark section, News report

On the afternoon of May 31st, the ‘‘Women in Power: Females in Research’’ event was successfully held at the Center for Electric Power and Energy (CEE), Department of Electrical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark (DTU). The purpose was to initiate a new subgroup under the IEEE PES Women in Power (WiP) committee for all female power and energy researchers in Denmark, in order to encourage young female researchers in electrical engineering to be more confident, by sharing their personal experiences and talking to role models. If you want to support or join the new subgroup in Denmark under the IEEE PES WiP committee, you are welcome to contact Jiawei Wang, [email protected].

The event was initiated by several PhDs and Postdoctoral researchers from CEE. Other than the initiators, several other CEE employees participated, including the Communications Officer Rikke Høm Jensen from the department. Senior researcher Yi Zong from CEE gave a presentation. Due to the Covid-19 limitations, the event was a hybrid of online and physical.

The initiators firstly gave a short introduction, where they discussed their motivations for starting the IEEE WiP subgroup. These include bringing awareness to the challenges of being a woman in the research field of power and energy, as well as offering a platform for sharing personal experiences. In addition, the initiators would like to address some specific questions related to diversity, such as: why are there few female professors in the field in Denmark? what is keeping female power and energy researchers back from a career in academia?

Many of the participants experience that they are less risk-taking and confident at the beginning of their career than their male colleagues. They also feel stressed and peer-pressured by male colleagues who do not show when they are insecure. Many of the women lack perspectives and guidance from female role models.

After the introduction, Senior Researcher Yi Zong gave a presentation entitled ‘’Female in Research – My experience at CEE/DTU’’.
In her presentation, Yi Zong introduced her experiences in academia, since she joined CEE in 2007 as a postdoctoral researcher. She has been involved in 10+ research projects including Horizon 2020, Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP), Innovation Fund Denmark (IFD) and Sino-Danish projects. Apart from her research, she is also in charge of project management, teaching two bachelor and master courses, coordinating a DANIDA (Danish International Development Agency) course, and supervising PhD and master students. She received many awards, such as Best Paper Award, Outstanding reviewer, and CEE Award, which she sees as the outcomes of her hardworking attitude and fruitful results.

Yi Zong also shared her experience as a female in a male dominated working environment. Her best advice to young female researchers is to enhance their professional knowledge and expertise and to be optimistic. As she sees, fewer females in the research area indicates more opportunities for women. In her experience, self-confidence will naturally grow when facing difficulties and challenges, such as managing multiple tasks of teaching, research and supervising. Lastly, she shared her experience on balancing family and work. Yi Zong stressed that her success was partly due to her husband’s strong support.

After the presentation, the event participants had the opportunity to ask questions and had a short discussion. Among others, the discussion focused on how to stay confident in a male -dominated working place, and how to address biases. After this event, other discussions followed among the participants, where they shared how they relate to Yi Zong’s experience, whether they agree or not with her analysis and what they want to take from it and to apply to their own careers.

A group photograph during the event is shown below.

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