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Thousands of Women Engineers Gather in Philly for WE16

Mike Dougherty covered WE16, SWE's Annual Conference, in this radio report for Philadelphia's CBS radio station, KYW 1060 AM.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Thousands of Women Engineers Gather in Philly for WE16

WE16 on Philadelphia Radio

Penny Wirsing, a SWE Fellow, was interviewed about WE16 on Philadelphia’s NPR station.

Listen to Morning Edition host Jennifer Lynn’s conversation with Penny Wirsing. 

The follow article was published on NewsWorks.org, the online home of WHYY, the most-listened-to public radio station in the Delaware Valley. 

The Society of Women Engineers Convention is in Philadelphia this week. The annual conference is one of the largest of its kind for women in this broad and broadening field.

“I think anyone who’s creative, who loves to solve problems, and who wants to make a difference in the world would make a perfect engineer,” said Penny Wirsing, an environmental manager and a long time member of the Society of Women Engineers board member.

Wirsing will take part in a panel discussion about professional development during the convention.  She says it’s best for girls to start early, to cultivate and maintain an interest in fundamentals like math.

Wirsing also acknowledged the stereotypical reaction to math and science.

“That it’s not necessarily fun — but we’re trying to change that conversation because there really is so much more to engineering,” Wirsing said.

“Honestly, there are a lot of professions that you need to be good at math and science,” she added. “But people tend to stereotype engineering with that, and so we’re really focusing on changing that perception.”

“Girls and boys in lower grades tend to do equally well in math and science,” Wirsing said. “But then, as they get older, girls tend to lose interest. It seems to be because there’s not that correlation between engineering and being able to really make a difference in the world.”

“The challenge is to help them understand engineering really is solving problems and changing the world.”

The Society of Women Engineers has a number of programs to help girls get more interested in the field. One of those programs — “Invent it, Build it” — will be presented at the society’s conference this week in Philadelphia. Wirsing said it will allow girls to get hands-on experience with experiments.

“We expect 500 girls in middle school and about 200 girls in high school, and they’ll be spending Saturday with hands-on experiments and surrounded by women engineers,” she said. “The girls have a chance to see what engineers do and really get excited about it.”


Mike Dougherty covered WE16 in this radio report for Philadelphia’s CBS radio station, KYW Newsradio 1060.

This article was published by online by KYW.

More than 11,000 women from all around the world are in Philadelphia this weekend for the annual Society of Women Engineers conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

From interns to senior level executives, this meeting of the minds is all about the advancement of women in a male-dominated field.

Conference CEO Karen Horting says women make up only about 12-percent of engineers.

“There’s a huge need for engineers. It’s one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of new jobs. So we really need to get more people engaged and working in the profession if we’re going to, as a country, remain competitive and secure.”

Hannah Height from Albuquerque, New Mexico is here for some networking.

“I’m kind of trying to figure out what I really want to do, so see what the companies offer, see what positions they have available.”

There are a number of different events and informational sessions scheduled throughout the weekend. The conference runs through Sunday.

Mike is a general assignment reporter and editor for KYW Newsradio 1060. His career at 1060 began as a desk assistant in January ’07. A short nine months later, he was promoted to AM Drive writer while still studying broadcast journalism at Temple…

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