In September, the Society of Women Engineers left our Chicago HQ for a trip to London. SWE Executive Director & CEO Karen Horting led a discussion with a focus group of likeminded women across engineering companies, academia, and UK Government. The discussion focused on:
- How do we keep girls engaged in STEM subjects throughout their school years?
- Is unconscious bias training effective in ending discriminatory practices?
- Do women suffer from a so-called “self-confidence barrier”?
- How can we improve workplace climate to retain female engineers?
- Do gender quotas help or hinder women in the workplace?
SWE is currently in the process of refining a topic for its next research project. It is SWE’s mission to advocate for the inclusion and success of women at organisations around the world. To best serve our members, it’s important to understand the challenges women face at all stages of their lives in an engineering career, and what kind of support can keep existing engineers on track and young female talent in the pipeline. Some interesting findings to inspire further discussion:
- Leaky pipeline: Government studies show there is an optimum number of interventions that keep young women engaged in STEM subjects. Repeated affirmations work.
- Role models: Role models can play a huge part in inspiring a young woman into engineering. It only takes one!
- Re-entryships: A STEM re-entry task force based on the model used in financial services could be used to re-capture mature women who left the field due to workplace climate or caring responsibilities.
- Employer support: It’s not enough to attract talent; employers need to support women throughout their careers. This means prioritising caring responsibilities as equal to work outside the home, and eliminating micro-inequities.
As SWE increases its research efforts in Europe, Karen emphasized the need to gain a better understanding of the engineering environment for European women, both in education and in the workforce. We’d love to hear from you!
SWE is a not-for-profit educational and service organization with 35,000 members around the world, serving as an advocate and catalyst for change for women in engineering and technology.
Interested in working with SWE to help advance women engineers around the world? Read more here.
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