Why Advocate Series
Tim Carson, HR Manager, Special Director at SWE
Advocacy Starts With a Conversation and a Passion
For our second installment in the “Why Advocate” Series on All Together, we got together with our very own Tim Carson, Special Director at The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), previous Co-Chair of the Corporate Partnership Council (CPC) and first male SWE Board of Directors member in the history of the Society. Male advocacy is a key component in our initiatives this year, so what better way to dig deeper into this topic than talking with our very own male advocate!
Tim brings a unique perspective to SWE – he is not an engineer and not a traditional HR or diversity manager. And…he’s male! Tim recently transitioned from the role of Manager of Diversity at Rockwell Collins to HR Manager for International Flight Services. It was in his prior role as Diversity Manager where his relationship with SWE began, as well as his advocacy efforts for women in engineering and technology. Here is a look at his story, as told by Tim himself…
“After interacting with women engineers within the workplace and SWE, I quickly realized that they were very open and engaging – much more so than many of the male engineers I’ve encountered over the years. As a matter of fact, my mentor of five plus years is a women engineer – a senior director at the company who is in part responsible for my professional growth and success.
“My background prior to Rockwell Collins is all public service oriented. I had no experience or exposure to the engineering and technology industry. My mentor took me under her wing and helped acclimate me to the company by ensuring that above all, I had a solid foundation to build on. We started at an altitude of roughly 30,000 feet as she provided a very high-level perspective on the broader organization and the functions of the specific business units. From there, we began our descent into understanding that critical interplay that occurs between engineering and the rest of the business.
“She understood that without this knowledge, I was a fish out of water and wouldn’t survive for long. I was different from the more traditional diversity leaders before me – my experience, my background, my education, my learning style, my thought processes – all different. But she was up for the challenge as my advocate. She inspired me to be bold. She had confidence in me and helped me to push frontiers in ways that I wouldn’t have otherwise done on my own. And I want to be that kind of an advocate!”
Working at an engineering focused company, Tim tells us that he’s seen first-hand the imbalance of representation in the field despite the company working overtime to address this issue. When Colleen Layman, president of SWE, approached Tim to serve in a Special Director role on the Board of Directors as a result of his experience as a Diversity Manager, he jumped at the opportunity.
“In the case of SWE, I was instantly the minority in the room,” explains Tim. “Yet the Society embraced me like one of their own, and I’ve grown in unimaginable ways ever since. Think for just a moment…if women in the workplace were greeted in the same manner…the impact this would have on overall representation in the field. How engaging and empowering that would be to feel welcomed at the table and be recognized as an equal contributor. Or, better yet, someone with the same potential as their male counterpart to lead the organization to new and exciting heights.”
When we asked Tim for advice for fellow SWE members and engineering peers who are interested in advocating for something but don’t know where to start, he insists it’s all about a healthy, open conversation and a little bit of passion.
“Start the conversation – open a dialogue with other members or colleagues and test the waters. You may just be surprised to find out how many share your same thoughts, concerns and values. This is how a true grassroots campaign is born – out of pure passion to affect change.”