Women Make Up a Third of Top IEEE Leadership Positions

IEEE Board of Directors is more diverse than Silicon Valley and Fortune 500 Boards

16 February 2017

Many large companies are struggling to increase the number of women on their boards, according to several recent reports. But that’s not the case at IEEE. This year’s Board of Directors has the most women in its history holding leadership positions, starting with the IEEE president and CEO, Karen Bartleson.

In fact, 9 of the 31 Board members are women, or almost 30 percent. That’s double the percentage of women who occupy board seats at 150 of Silicon Valley’s largest companies (15 percent), according to the research firm Equilar. And IEEE’s Board is more diverse than Fortune 500 companies, which in total are 23 percent female, according to an analysis by the Alliance for Board Diversity.

Unlike large public companies, which pay their board members an average of US $270,000, IEEE Board members are unpaid volunteers. And because IEEE members elect them, that says to me voters recognize the importance of having women in top positions. According to the Alliance for Board Diversity, having a more diverse board with fresh perspectives and a different set of experiences is important because boardrooms are power centers that can bring about change.

While tech companies and startups are competing to find enough accomplished women to join their boards, The New York Times reports, IEEE doesn’t have that problem. There are no better qualified female engineers helping to run IEEE than these nine:

IEEE President and CEO Karen Bartleson, a senior member, has been on the Board since 2013. She chaired and led the development of the strategic plan for the IEEE Internet Initiative committee, whose charter is to raise IEEE’s influence and profile in the areas of Internet governance, cybersecurity, and cyberprivacy policy development.

Bartleson was a member of the IEEE Ad Hoc Committee on Strategic Planning, overseeing the development of IEEE’s role in global public policy. During her tenure as president of the IEEE Standards Association, she led the development of a strategic plan, furthered the principles of the OpenStand market-driven standardization paradigm, and finalized IEEE’s membership in the Global Standards Collaboration. She has more than 35 years of experience in the semiconductor industry, particularly in electronic design automation. She recently retired as senior director of corporate programs and initiatives at Synopsys, an electronic design automation company in Mountain View, Calif. There her responsibilities included creating programs for technical standards development, overseeing software tool interoperability, and creating and maintaining relationships with universities and research institutions worldwide.


Director and Delegate for Division IV: Jennifer T. Bernhard is a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. An IEEE Fellow, Bernhard is the associate dean for research at the university’s College of Engineering. She is a member at large for the IEEE Publication Services and Products Board as well as that board’s representative to the IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) committee. She was 2008 president of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society and has held various positions on the IEEE Technical Activities Board.


Director and Delegate for Division III: Celia L. Desmond is president of World Class Telecommunications, in Mississauga, Ont., Canada. An IEEE life senior member, Desmond provides training in telecommunications management and lectures internationally. She has held many IEEE Board-level positions including IEEE secretary in 2007 and 2012, vice president of IEEE Technical Activities in 2006, and 2000–2001 president of IEEE Canada (Region 7). She has been a member of several committees, most recently the 2014 chair of the Honorary Member Award committee. She was the 2002–2003 president of the IEEE Communications Society and helped establish its Wireless Communications Engineering Technologies certification.


Director and Delegate for Region 2: Katherine J. Duncan is a principal investigator with the printed RF structures group, at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Maryland. There the IEEE senior member helps develop novel nanomaterials for the next generation of communication systems. Her research focus is on synthesis, deposition, material, and electrical characterization. The group is among the first to successfully deposit chemically reduced graphene by inkjet printing for radio frequency applications. Duncan is also a research adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Delaware in Newark. She is the IEEE Women in Engineering coordinator of IEEE Region 2. Previously she served as secretary, treasurer, and vice chair for the IEEE Baltimore Section.


Director and Delegate for Region 8: Margaretha A.K. Eriksson is a senior engineering management consultant with Irbis Konsult AB, in Täby, Sweden, a company the IEEE senior member founded in 1989. It provides consulting services on engineering management, information security, and cybersecurity. Eriksson’s clients include Ericsson, IBM, and Volvo. She is a lecturer on risk analysis and information security at Halmstad University in Sweden. As chair of the IEEE Sweden Section, she established new technical chapters and formed several IEEE Women in Engineering groups. She also helped create Region 8’s Industrial Relations committee. She is a member of the IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society.


Director and Delegate for Region 6: Kathleen A. Kramer is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of San Diego, and from 2004 to 2013 was its director of engineering. The IEEE senior member has been a member of the technical staff at Bell Communications Research, Hewlett Packard, ViaSat, and other companies. Kramer’s research interests include multisensor data fusion, intelligent systems, and neural and fuzzy systems. She serves on the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society board of governors and is chair of its San Diego chapter. She is a member of the IEEE Committee on Engineering Accreditation Activities, and is an ABET program evaluator for electrical engineering and computer engineering programs.


Director and IEEE-USA President: Karen S. Pedersen is principal of the consulting group Pedersen Power Solutions of Cedar Falls, Iowa. The IEEE life senior member has spent more than 35 years in the utility industry as a planner and rate researcher. Pederson is an instructor for Wentworth Technology in Boston, teaching online continuing education courses on electric motor controls, power system analysis, and transients. She served two terms as director of IEEE Region 4, from 2011 to 2014. She has been a member of several IEEE committees, including the IEEE Ethics and Member Conduct and IEEE Member and Geographic Activities Geographic Unit Operations Supportcommittees. She is a former chair of the Cedar Rapids Section’s IEEE Power & Energy chapter.


Director and Vice President of Member and Geographic Activities: Mary Ellen Randall, an IEEE senior member, is president and CEO of Ascot Technologies, in Cary, N.C. The company develops enterprise applications for mobile data delivery technologies. Randall was named a top Woman in Business in the state’s Research Triangle Park area, and made Business Leader Magazine’s Impact 100 List. During her tenure as 2005–2006 chair of the IEEE Women in Engineering committee, she grew the number of WIE affinity groups from 61 to 134. She founded the IEEE Eastern North Carolina Section’s WIE affinity group and was its chair from 2001 to 2005, and she was chair of the section in 2004. She served on the IEEE Awards Board in 2010 and 2011.


Director and Vice President of Technical Activities: Marina Ruggieri is a professor of telecommunications engineering at the University of Rome. The IEEE Fellow is also the steering board chair of CTIF, an interdisciplinary research center on information communications technology. Ruggieri is a member of the Technical-Scientific Committee of the Center for Aeronautical Military Studies. She was the 2010–2011 president of the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society. She has been a member of the IEEE Technical Activities Board as well as the Governance, Fellow, and Public Visibility committees.

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