On March 5-6, 2014, SWE organized the 2014 “Diversity and Inclusion Fuels Innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)” Capitol Hill Day. While there are a number of successful science and technology advocacy days on Capitol Hill, none of these focuses solely on the need to strengthen the diversity of the STEM workforce. This event was made possible by a grant from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.
The 2014 Capitol Hill Day events consisted of training for participants and a Capitol Hill reception on March 5th, followed by a Capitol Hill breakfast and Congressional visits on March 6th. This is the fifth year that SWE has taken the lead in organizing this event. Over 80 people attended the event, which included twenty-three SWE leaders.
The training began with SWE President Stacey DelVecchio welcoming attendees, and because SWE wanted to engage with attendees on social media throughout the events, SWE Manager of Public Relations and Social Media Kelly Janowski gave an overview of six tips for social media success. Then SWE Government Relations and Public Policy Chair Paula Stenzler and Washington Representative Melissa Carl provided attendees with an overview of current public policy issues related to women and STEM, including a discussion of the tight fiscal climate on Capitol Hill and the recent FY 2015 federal budget request. Erin Prangley, Associate Director of Government Relations for the American Association of University Women, followed and shared her perspective as a former Deputy Chief of Staff on how to communicate with Congress.
SWE Government Relations and Public Policy Chair-Elect Betty Irish then presented the Congressional visit talking points, which highlighted SWE’s (and many of its co-sponsors’) support of the Education and Human Resources (EHR) and Engineering Directorates of the National Science Foundation (NSF), especially the gender-focused programs like ADVANCE and Broadening Participation in Engineering (BPE). Eric Hammond, Senior Legislative Assistant for House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Dr. Bevlee Watford, NSF BPE Program Manager, spoke to attendees, and delivered perspectives from the Administration and Congress. Finally, SWE President-Elect Elizabeth Bierman facilitated a role play exercise to give attendees some insight into a Congressional visit.
During the March 5th reception, several Congressional champions of STEM and diversity-related issues provided remarks. These champions included: 2008 SWE President’s Award recipient, The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX); The Honorable Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI); The Honorable Richard Hanna (R-NY); and The Honorable Aaron Schock (R-IL).
On March 6th, SWE President Stacey DelVecchio opened the breakfast, and introduced the speakers: Bess Evans, Senior Policy Advisor for Public Engagement in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and Dr. Jason Day, Senior Policy Advisor, Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-IL). Ms. Evans reminded attendees of the volume of constituents who come to Washington, and the need to make your message stand out. Dr. Day then described a typical day in a Congressional office, and what being a Policy Advisor for a Member of Congress entails. SWE Government Relations and Public Policy Committee Chair Paula Stenzler also reviewed the Congressional talking points with attendees, and attendees had time to break into small groups to prepare for the subsequent visits with their Congressional representatives before adjourning. SWE leaders went on 42 Congressional visits.
The following thirty-seven STEM and diversity organizations co-sponsored the event: American Association of University Women; ABET; American Institute of Chemical Engineers; American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering; American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers; American Indian Science and Engineering Society; Association for Iron and Steel Technology; American Nuclear Society; American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers; American Society of Civil Engineers; American Society for Engineering Education; American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers; The Anita Borg Institute; ASME; Association for Women in Science; Automation Federation; IEEE-USA; IEEE Women in Engineering; Institute of Industrial Engineers; International Society of Automation; Mentornet; NAMEPA, Inc.; National Action Council of Minorities in Engineering; National Center for Women and Information Technology; National GEM Consortium; National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals, Inc.; National Society of Black Engineers; National Society of Professional Engineers; SAE International; Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Foundation; Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.; SME; SME Foundation; SPIE- The International Society for Optics and Photonics; The Optical Society; TMS; and,Women in Engineering Pro-Active Network.
For more information about the 2014 Capitol Hill Day, check out a Storify of all the tweets, photos and links shared via social media last week.