Why Men Join SWE
Although it is an organization predominantly comprised of women, SWE has always included men amongst its ranks in one way or another. In 1952, a few husbands and boyfriends of Philadelphia Section members started an informal organization called the "Men's Artillery." The Artillery members seemed to have joined primarily to have company while their SWE members were at section meetings, based on the benefits listed on the membership card: "picking up all bar chits, telling shaggy-dog stories, and treating all male comers when SWE date is late." A copy of the card can be found on the Philadelphia Section's historical timeline.
The Men's Auxiliary of the Society of Women Engineers was formed in 1967 to encourage male relatives and friends of SWE members to engage in the Society, from fundraising to driving high school girls to engineering career nights. However, in 1976, the SWE bylaws were amended to allow men to become full members of the Society. What motivations led men to become full, dues-paying members of the Society?
SWE Fellow Jane Zimmer Daniels, Sabina Bajrovic and Nicole DiFabio explore this question in their paper, "Why Women and Men Joined SWE Over the Last 60 Years.” The authors listened to the interviews of three Rodney D. Chipp Memorial recipients, George Brewster (1985), Walter McFall (1997) and Jim Porter (2007), and found that:
"Perhaps most interesting is that each of them had a mother or daughter who personalized for them the meaning of discrimination and bias that women faced as engineers. These men understood its value to female engineering students and female engineers facing challenges to succeed in a male-dominated career. All three said they joined SWE to be supportive of the women engineers and engineering students who worked for their organizations."
To learn more about why men—and women—have joined SWE over the years, read the full article in the Journal of the Society of Women Engineers, 60th Anniversary Edition.
~Troy Eller, SWE archivist