Inaugural Women in Science Conference

September 21, 2018

Over 150 leading women scientists, academics, industry researchers and government officials are taking part in a unique conference in Abu Dhabi in a direct attempt to build new partnerships and foster greater research collaboration amongst women in the fields of science and engineering across the U.S. and MENA region.

Co-hosted by the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, and supported by the U.S. Department of State, National Science Foundation (NSF), Abu Dhabi Education Council and Dow Chemical, the interactive two-day workshop promises to be a practical step forward, supporting the research ambitions of women across the science and engineering spectrum.

Opened by an inspirational keynote address from Her Excellency Dr. Amal Al-Qubaisi, Member of the Federal National Council, the international gathering has drawn experts from as far afield as Iraq, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine, including a significant number of women who have travelled to Abu Dhabi from leading U.S. and European institutions.

On behalf of co-host’s Masdar Institute, Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar, and the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustee of Masdar Institute said:

“The most significance challenges the world faces today require a dedicated response from the brightest and best minds working in collaboration to drive innovation through research. As leaders and critical thinkers, undoubtedly, women scientists and engineers across the MENA region therefore have a fundamental role to play.

“The importance of this conference and the wider principle of supporting women in pursuit of their career ambitions is reflected in Abu Dhabi’s visionary leadership and commitment to developing human capital and encouraging aspiring female academics as exemplified by Masdar Institute, where over 30% of students are women. I am delighted and proud that the first ‘Women in Science’ conference is taking place in Abu Dhabi, with the entire region set to benefit from the resulting outcomes.”

Amongst the foremost experts and leaders providing their support and speaking at the pioneering conference are prominent female figures; Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qassimi, UAE’s Minister of Foreign Trade, Ms. Jumana Judeh, Founder of the Arab American Women’s Business Council, Ms. Mary Oakes Smith, President of the Iraqi Women’s Fellowship Foundation, and Ms. Susan Finston, President of Finston Consulting and Founder of BayhDole25.

Created as a follow-up to the highly successful ‘Professional Mentoring of Women in Science and Engineering Program’, held at the University of Michigan-Dearborn in the spring 2009, the ‘Women in Science Conference’ has provided a fresh opportunity to a large number of women with common research interests, as Dr. Subrata Sengupta, Dean of University of Michigan-Dearborn’s College of Engineering and Computer Science explained;

“By directly sharing information, experiences, best practice models and research opportunities around particular technical disciplines or pressing issues in the region, the ‘Women in Science Conference’ has huge potential to create further mutually beneficial relationships. It is a vital first step towards our ultimate goal of establishing long-term technical collaboration and joint research between U.S. researchers and women from the MENA region.” Dr. Amal Al Ghaferi, a participant in the original program at University of Michigan-Dearborn, and recently appointed first female UAE national member of faculty at Masdar Institute, stated;

“The response by all who took part in the initial program was so overwhelmingly positive with everyone immediately benefitting from the connections made, it became obvious that the opportunity had to be shared with others within their home countries to formally create associations and expand the network. This opportunity has only been possible through the support of all our partners, especially those based in the U.S.” “By design, the engaging panel sessions and working group sessions over the next two days will allow for open discussion on the structures and disciplines of resulting associations, joint research, university-industry collaboration and funding. As a result all conference attendees will be able to directly shape the future of women’s associations in science and engineering in the MENA region. ”

Conducted as an interactive two-day workshop entitled ‘Association Building and International Research Collaboration for MENA Women in Science and Engineering’, the conference includes a wealth of renowned keynote speakers and panelists drawn from industry, academia and consultancies to represent a full range of expertise. Amongst the speakers and panelists include; Dr Marwan Khraisheh, Dean, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Dr. Jamie Saville, Assistant Director, WISE, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Ms. Jumana Judeh President, Arab American Women’s Business Council, and Dr. Omnia El-Hakim Program Director for Diversity and Outreach, NSF.