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WES Annual Conference 2022 – review by Mel Sutcliffe

The WES annual conference took place virtually over 2 days in late April.

The theme was #ImagineTheFuture, with the associated Top 50 Women in Engineering Awards (WE50) theme being Inventors & Innovators. These themes were reflected in the titles of the presentations e.g. ‘The 9 principles of innovation mastery’, ‘Supporting the next generation of inventors’ and ‘Supporting Innovation in Education’.

Elizabeth Donnelly, the WES Chief Executive Officer opened the conference with the statement that women make up only 14.5% of all engineers. Elizabeth made the point that although this is a disappointing statistic, this number represents a 25.7% increase in women in engineering occupations since 2016, highlighting positive changes are taking place.

Compared to previous WES conferences, there was a definite shift towards a broader range of topics regarding diversity. This year the topics being discussed were less focused on gender diversity, and instead had a greater emphasis on demographic diversity, e.g. race, sexual orientation, culture, religion, age, ability (mental and/or physical) etc.

Several speakers described how the engineering industry rose to the challenge of COVID. Speakers described how impressive it was to see companies that were hardened rivals prior to the pandemic, collaborating to produce engineering solutions that literally saved lives.

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