SWE HQ: Tell us about yourself! What type of engineer are you and how have you been involved with SWE?
I am a Mechanical Engineer who has had the good fortune of working in several industries including aerospace, automotive and HVAC. While I have been aware of SWE since college, I wasn’t a member and I wasn’t involved until about a year and a half ago. My first ‘personal’ introduction after joining was the 2017 Congressional Outreach Day. That two-day event opened my eyes and inspired me to become more involved. I have since joined the Membership Committee and attended my first SWE conference in October.
SWE HQ: Why do you feel it is important to advocate for women in engineering and how do you personally advocate for this cause?
Well, this is certainly a big question – and big opportunity! The short answer is that there are too few women who enter engineering and fewer who stay. And diversity in any form is shown to be positive for corporate cultures, engagement and the bottom line.
I personally advocate for the cause in several ways:
- I seek to learn as much as I can, so that I can educate others on the importance of diversity for organizations
- I mentor women in my organization, both formally and informally
- I helped to start a Women’s Network local chapter on our campus and am part of that leadership team – we work with our executive sponsors to provide opportunities and connections for women and our advocates
- I attempt to be a good employee and role model – sometimes people only need to work with ‘the other’ in a positive way to become advocates themselves.
SWE HQ: How has attending SWE’s Congressional Outreach Day in the past helped you be a better advocate?
One of the challenges for me, both personally and professionally, has been learning to speak up, to have a voice. The political arena is no exception; my assumption was that individuals really had no input anyway. I was SO educated last year in how much of a difference we can make. It was exciting and empowering to realize that our elected officials work for us (at least that is the intent) and most of them really do want to represent their constituents. But they are less likely to speak up for folks who don’t speak up for themselves. We need to provide them with data and reasons to push for items that we believe in and that need public advocacy.
SWE HQ: If someone is new to public advocacy, what are some of the first steps you would recommend they take?
I cannot think of a better introduction then doing the SWE Congressional Outreach event - in a very efficient manner participants are exposed to the basics of who, how and what in reaching out to our representatives. Outside of that, educate yourself on the data and pending legislation / budget details around your issues. Professionally and succinctly write out your case. Send letters with the information. And make reaching out to your local offices a priority.
What to become involved in Public Policy & Advocacy at SWE? Check out the following opportunities and resources:
- Register for SWE’s 2018 Congressional Outreach Day.
- Stay informed about SWE Advocacy through text alerts. Text SWE Public Policy to 56512 to sign-up.
- Use this site to find your United States elected officials, learn a bit about your elected official, the committees they are on and what is important to them.
- Check out the advocacy section on SWE’s All Together blog or our Legislative Action Center.
- Login to the new SWE Advance Learning Center to take the (free to members) public policy educational modules.