The Monthly SWE Newsletter
February 2015
SWE News

Change in the Workplace: Updating Outdated Maternity Leave Policies

Last month, SWE members gathered on Facebook to discuss the challenge of attempting to change longstanding maternity leave policies in their workplace. Allyson F. asked: "Has anyone out there had any success in trying to change your company's maternity leave policy? What worked for you and what problems did you run into?"

"Best of luck. I have no experience in changing company policy regarding maternity leave. Here in my state (CA, USA) the state benefits that we pay into were surprisingly good and my company also provided some additional support for only part of the maternity leave.

"Another big consideration is how your company supports women after they return from maternity leave. I just read the SWE Work & Life Integration Playbook and thought it had some great info." - Susie M.

"Since I started the company, I could establish the leave policy. We set eight paid weeks off, not to be used in conjunction with disability, but I made sure to extend work-from-home options for several weeks after either option expires." - Heather U.

"I tried in a company [similar in size to Allyson's company] and failed. The most traction I got was when I asked other SWE members in the area about their policies and showed that data to my employer." - Janice M.

Be sure to follow SWE on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and join us for our next thought-provoking discussion. For more information on the SWE Work & Life Integration Playbook, head to SWE.org/e-book-download.

New PR Toolkit Makes Promoting Section or Region Events a Breeze

SWE is continually working to develop tools you can use to improve your section and region events. Our latest effort is the Public Relations Toolkit, a collection of resources designed to help you effectively promote your upcoming events.

Promoting your event is a great way to improve attendance, but reaching out to the media can be tricky. We developed the resources in this toolkit to help you plan promotional campaigns with ease and to help you confidently navigate the public relations landscape. Included in the toolkit are tutorials that will help you utilize social media to announce your upcoming events, brochures you can hand out to prospective members, research and statistics regarding women in engineering you can use in your promotional material and press release templates you can use to create professional looking announcements for your events.

Check out the toolkit online at SWE’s website and be sure to keep up with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, where you can discuss your upcoming events with fellow members and share your favorite tips and tricks for promoting, organizing and running your section or region events.

Renew Your SWE Membership

At the end of July, SWE was servicing 30,813 members. 16,903 are active members for FY15 already. Membership coincides with SWE’s fiscal year, July 1 – June 30, so if you are one of the more than 13,000 members needing to renew, just renew here.

It’s not too early to spread the word about renewing. Region F already has a retention rate of 56%, which is greater than SWE’s overall retention rate, with half of their region experiencing retention rates greater than 50%. SWE North Country Section (F005) leads all sections and MALs with a 95% retention rate. SWE Mid-Hudson Section (F007) is in second place with a retention rate of 86%. Region F Governor, Jennifer Lynch, and Stephanie Lum, SWE North Country Section President, indicate the Employer Sponsored Membership (ESM) program has had a significant impact on their membership. Stephanie further shared the stellar past leadership with great vision helped. “One of the best strategic moves for us was to open up some of our events to non-member female engineers. We have many great technical artisan tour opportunities in the Burlington, VT area, so opening up our events allowed us to establish the SWE brand in the area ... because of the leg work we did to establish ourselves in the community, many ladies jumped on the opportunity” to join SWE” when the ESM was offered to them. Now these sections can focus on programs and activities to benefit the members.

The reasons for renewing your SWE membership are as individual as each member. Benefits come in many forms:  from the initial bonding created with other SWE members enrolled in the same engineering program as you, to the expanding network created by exploring engineering opportunities near and far. You may find empowerment by creating your own professional development road map using the webinars and podcasts in SWE’s Advanced Learning Center, attending WE14, or reading SWE Magazine or SWE’s newly launched eBook, “Work & Life Integration Playbook” for both professional and personal growth. Many are content just knowing they support the organization and its objectives through their membership, while others gain satisfaction in seeing the look on the face of a 12-year old girl who successfully completed a science project and experienced the thrill of applied engineering and creativity for the first time. The reasons are varied but the goal is the same: to stimulate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity.

If you have not renewed your SWE membership, login and renew now! 

If you are a leader, here are some things you can do to improve renewals”

  1. Make sure you have renewed.

  2. As Chair or Chair-elect of a committee ensure all your committee members have renewed.

  3. Use the reports on the Leadership Portal to identify members who have not yet renewed – call them or write them to encourage their renewal.

  4. Make it easy for them to renew.  Send an e-mail renewal reminder and include the renewal link.

Visit the Membership Toolkit on the SWE website for other retention ideas and tools or contact SWE’s membership department for assistance.

SWE & Arup Introduce the Diversity and Inclusion Knowledge Cards

Diversity is the driver of innovation in the workplace, a core message the Society of Women Engineers is proud to promote through a partnership with Arup. SWE is partnering with the global multidisciplinary engineering, design and consulting firm to present SWE's newest diversity and inclusion resource, the Diversity and Inclusion Knowledge Cards. These cards will serve as an invaluable set of tools for organizations and companies looking for best practices designed to explore the value of diversity in the workplace.

Three group activities accompany the knowledge cards which allow for users to interact with provocative questions, summaries of current research and intriguing data points. These thought-provoking resources gives businesses a means to begin meaningful change in their organizational structures by welcoming more perspectives at every level. Each card revolves around a key aspect of identifying the unconscious biases prevalent in the engineering industry in North America.

The limited-edition cards are now available for interested organizations. Individual card decks can be purchased by going to the SWE Store or by contacting SWE directly at learning@swe.org. Downloadable card activities and more information about this initiative can be found at swe.org/diknowledge.

SWE Value Statement

SWE Value: Integrity - We aspire to the highest level of ethical behavior as evidenced by honesty and dignity in our personal and professional relationships and responsibilities.

Real life situation: Rebecca was a developer pursuing a path that was not working out, trying to optimize the process her code was supposed to create. Rather than patching together a solution that was not optimum (but that would allow her to save her work) she went to her team. She explained the dead-ends she had run into and how they could create problems for the continual development of the software's advanced features in the future.

The team discussed and worked through the problem. Rebecca scrapped all of her code and started from scratch with the team’s input. Her new solution ensured her team's ability to easily expand the product’s capabilities in the future.

WE14 Speakers: Help Us Help You Pack Your Sessions

As SWE approaches what will undoubtedly be its best Annual Conference to date, the Society is pleased to unveil a tool for WE14 speakers that will help them raise the profile of their involvement and increase attendance to their sessions. The WE14 Speaker Promotion Toolkit is packed with the tips and tactics speakers need to promote their involvement in the world’s largest event for women engineers.

Available for download now, the kit includes a news release template, sample language for your employee newsletter and pre-written messages for your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts to help you spread the world to your colleagues and friends. Let SWE know how you used the resources and provide your feedback to Kelly Janowski, public relations and social media manager, at kelly.janowski@swe.org.

#AskSWE Tweetchat Increases in Influence

Last year, SWE launched an effort to connect members with one another, the Society and industry innovators like never before. The #AskSWE tweetchat, which began as a special event featuring FY13 President Alyse Stofer, rapidly became a cornerstone of SWE’s social media offerings. At noon central time the third Friday of every month, Twitter followers converge for an hour of conversation and insight. Using the hashtag #AskSWE, users discuss a predetermined topic and share their advice and questions with the assembled group. Past topics have included setting goals for the new year, developing leadership skills and making the most of your time at the Annual Conference.

In the months since adding the chat, SWE has had the pleasure of other organizations joining the conversation. DuPont joined a recent tweetchat discussing resources for early-career engineers, while Arup joined a special #AskSWE tweetchat to discuss the Diversity and Inclusion Knowledge Cards it had created in collaboration with SWE.

While the number of attendees vary by topic, as many as 110 Twitter users have contributed to each session, joining a virtual coffee date with members around the world. Recognizing the increasing popularity of these sessions, SWE now offers the unique opportunity for organizations to connect with SWE’s most influential Twitter followers by sponsoring these chats. For a complete list of upcoming opportunities, contact Jennifer Scott, director of Fund Development, at jennifer.scott@swe.org.

CPC eBook coming in August

CPC eBookSWE will soon release its second eBook: Be That Engineer: Inspiration and Insight From Accomplished Women Engineers. The eBook was developed with the support of 33 wonderful women representing 33 of SWE's Corporate Partnership Council members. This book will serve as a source of inspiration for all women engineers no matter their stage in life. The eBook will be available for download August 14 through Amazon, followed by the iBook store in the weeks that follow. For those interested in a hard copy of the book, on-demand printing will be available for a small charge.

SWE’s FY13 Annual Report

FY14 Annual ReportSWE's FY13 Annual Report is now available. Traditionally, this document updates members, corporate partners and the public at large on the previous fiscal year's activities, demonstrating the level of success SWE continues to experience in carrying out its mission. The FY13 Annual Report is available for download at swe.org.

The Allure and Attraction of a Brand’s Essence

Companies will often market a brand based on functional elements or benefits, instead of aiming their branding at the emotional level of the member or customer. This brings to mind the question, which method is more effective?

The answer is neither. The answer is both. Emotional connections run much deeper than functional ones. When you create an emotional connection with your buyer you enhance their potential to see more value in you, as well as the notion that your organization is more effective than competitors. But people buy based on functionality as well. Is your product good? Does it do or provide what you say it will? Great brands achieve a balance between emotion and function that strikes the right chord with the target audience. A good example is the iPhone. The functional aspect of this product is its performance and its features. Definitely important, but not all together defendable. Others can create a phone with similar performance and features. It is the emotional connection that takes it up a notch. "Now I have the latest iPhone; now I'm cool, I'm a techie, I'm a trend setter." Apple has done a phenomenal job of branding on both levels.

So how does SWE fit into all this? And how do we achieve the right brand essence for SWE? One way is to analyze how women engineers feel about SWE. In this issue, we thought it would be fun to share what women engineers said when asked “if SWE were a woman, how would you describe her?" Using the hundreds of responses we received, we created a word cloud. The larger the word in the cloud the more times it was mentioned. The results are pretty interesting. Thoughts or comments? Please share them with us.

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