The second day of WE15 kicked off this morning with a plenary panel discussion featuring some brilliant ladies within the SWE network and the engineering field. Our panelists included Janeen Juda of Chevron Corporation, Debra Leach of GLOBAL FOUNDRIES, Patti Robb of Intel, Chandra Marshall of Lockheed Martin Corporation, Tami Barron of Southern Company, Sonal Despande of Northrop Grumman and Pamela Jackson of Emerson.
With the theme “Reaching Out to Reach Up,” the panel discussed a variety of topics that inspired professional and collegiate attendees to reach their fullest potential within their careers. One of the topics addressed was how to reshape your organization to make it more all-inclusive and diverse. Building a structure that fosters growth in a technical environment is key to attracting and, more importantly, retaining women in the field. Supporting female-friendly groups, such as SWE, is also a great way to foster diversity. Sponsoring these groups and actually getting involved creates an additional support network for female and other minority employees. To go a step forward, organizations can form their own counsel or mentor programs to support women in engineering.
Another topic the group touched on was working with the millennial generation and generation Z – both of which are starting to occupy the majority of the workforce. These generations are the first that fully live and breathe connection. These generations are looking for instant connection and instant gratification. So how do we engage these groups? These groups tend to bounce around in the workforce – seeking gratification in a variety of places. One way to engage and retain these groups is to provide an environment that gives them the ability to bounce around within one company. Giving these employees multiple projects is a great way to do this.
The plenary wrapped up with thoughts from the panel on advice for young engineers working on an all-male team – something many of our members are very familiar with! Here are some great nuggets from the panel:
- Be true to yourself
- Be confident in your abilities and in making contributions
- Listen and learn from your colleagues
- Network as much as possible
- Find a common ground with your employees and use that to break the dice
- Don’t rule yourself out for great opportunities – you are fully capable!
- Find diverse mentors