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Society of Women Engineers

What’s Happening with SWE’s Governance Update?

It’s important that our members are aware of SWE’s Governance Update and are provided an opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

Published On: August 2016

SWE logoSWE is continuing to work toward improving the functionality and efficiency of our governance structure. This initiative, called our Governance Update, is designed to be an investment in SWE’s future to provide the type of environment in which women engineers want to take part and grow. It’s important that our members are aware of this project and are provided an opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

Here’s where we stand as of August 2016:

  • The sub-teams that were established in FY16 have wrapped up their work and provided a summary of their recommendations and reasoning.
  • A Task Force has been established in FY17 to take these recommendations and develop a coordinated plan and timeline.
  • Several “quick hit” bylaws changes were recommended and put before the Senate for an electronic vote this spring. Due to a lack of a quorum of Senators voting, those changes will be on the agenda for the Senate’s October meeting.

You can expect more, and more frequent, communication on the status of the governance work in the coming months as things progress.  In the meantime, please help us by passing along information – in both directions, upline to HQ and out to your counterparts in the Sections – and by directing folks to the governance.swe.org web site.

Governance Update Webpage

A webpage is available, governance.swe.org, with news, resources and information about the status and ongoing work we’re doing. You’ll find answers to frequently-asked questions and contact information.  Please check the webpage periodically for updates.  And don’t be concerned if there don’t seem to be a lot of hits on the page…remember that many of our 35,000 members aren’t plugged into the current organizational structure, so they’re not likely to be following how it’s changing.

Why is SWE conducting a Governance Update?

SWE has been fortunate enough to experience tremendous growth in the last ten years. Sometimes with growth comes growing pains, and reviewing how we govern ourselves and the structures we have in place to support our governance is crucial. In the words of a best-selling business book, “what got us here won’t get us there.” We need to ensure that our governance structure will not prohibit, but will promote, continuous growth of SWE and its members. This initiative is designed to be an investment in SWE’s future and provide the type of environment women engineers want to be a part of and grow within.

When is the Governance Update happening?

Many changes will impact multiple areas of the organization. While we are anxious to make the changes needed to take us to the next level, SWE leadership is committed to taking the time to do it the right way. As the implementation plans are developed for each area, the exact timing of the overall changes will be better understood. We estimate it could take as much as 3 years for the entire transition.

Can you give a high level overview of what’s in mind?

  • The Board of Directors will stay basically the same size, with all Board members having consistent term lengths. Most will continue to be elected, a few appointed.
  • The Senate (or whatever the new name is) will be selected based on competencies, not geographic location, with the same staggered term length for all, and a focus on the strategic rather than the tactical.
  • Permanent geographic boundaries are to be dissolved, with current responsibilities redistributed to HQ or committees as appropriate (or discontinued). This means the underlying HQ/committee structure needs to be developed to support this change.
  • Bylaws will be streamlined, with some items moved to procedures as appropriate. We’re considering whether to have all members vote on bylaws changes in future.
  • Section leadership structure and bylaws will be simplified. The Section formation process will be evaluated.  The Section Representative position will no longer be needed.
  • Collegiates will be integrated throughout the Society, not just in specific positions, and will be voting members.
  • Our goal is to effectively use our volunteers’ time in meaningful tasks that provide valuable leadership experience.

Who do I contact with questions?

Please feel free to send an email to governance@swe.org.

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