The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is working to improve the functionality and efficiency of our governance structure. It is important that our members are aware of these improvements and are provided an opportunity to contribute to the conversation.
Committees will continue to be an important part of the Society’s structure, providing opportunities for SWE members to develop skills and leadership as committee members and chairs. In addition, committee activities will be better communicated to our members so they’re aware of the opportunities available to them. In that spirit, we have created a series of podcasts to help members understand the important work done by each of our committees. Learn more about SWE’s Governance Update on our webpage, governance.swe.org.
The Audit Committee oversees the annual audit of the Society’s financial reports. They are responsible for selecting an auditor, ensuring HQ provides the needed information to the auditor, reviewing the audit and resolving any issues identified, and reporting the outcome and any recommendations to the Board. The committee also investigates any audit-related issues raised by SWE members.
People who might be interested in this committee include those with a financial background or have experience with audits in other organizations. The work involves several phone calls with the auditor and the other committee members, and it’s important that all the material provided is reviewed in advance. It’s a rather small committee, typically 5 or 6 people, and the work load is mostly in the fall after the books have closed, with the audit due to the Board by January or February.
Awards and Recognition Committee
If your passion is recognizing the amazing accomplishments of women, men, and SWE groups, you may want to consider the Awards and Recognition Committee. This committee oversees all the awards presented by the Society and coordinates all phases of the nomination and selection activities. This includes three categories of awards: the Individual Awards and the Mission Awards, both presented at the Annual Conference, and the soon-to-be-rolled out WE Local Awards, which will be presented at the WE Local conferences. Because of the timeframe associated with each, you can choose an award category that aligns with your availability: individual awards require involvement in the spring, Mission awards are judged over the summer, and WE Local awards will be coordinated during the fall.
There are two primary roles you can serve within the committee, either coordinator or judge. Each specific award within each category requires a coordinator and multiple judges. Judging is a good way to get a taste of what goes into each of the awards packets, and usually takes 8-10 hours over a 3 week time period. Coordinating awards is more work – from the time the nominations are submitted, the coordinator is engaged, verifying that the requirements for the award are met and aligning judges to score each of the nominations. Coordinators also compile the final results, work with their judges to determine any tiebreakers, and communicate with the committee chair to finalize all award information. This involves a little more time commitment, but stretched over an extra couple of weeks.
The committee is always looking for judges and will be looking for some new coordinators. Some people love doing this so much, they take part in multiple awards categories! Though it’s not necessary, it is beneficial to have some experience with awards, either putting together nominations or judging. The reward of being on this committee is celebrating the many accomplished people that we get to recognize.
The Bylaws Committee reviews and approves bylaws for professional and collegiate sections, and the Members at Large (MAL) group. They prepare templates to help the sections in maintaining their bylaws, and educate SWE members on the purpose and functionality of bylaws. One of the areas they’ll be working on in the next year is how to streamline the bylaws update process to make it easier for sections to stay up-to-date, and also ensure section officers understand what exactly their bylaws mean.
The committee also reviews and comments on proposed amendments to the Society’s bylaws. It’s important for volunteers on this committee to be detail-oriented, while not getting caught up “in the weeds”. That is, the bylaws should be correct but they shouldn’t cover more than is needed. The committee typically meets by phone monthly.
Conference Advisory Board
The Conference Advisory Board (CAB) consists of representatives from professional, collegiate and corporate members, as well as upcoming host areas around the country. They are responsible for setting the strategy for future SWE Conferences, including assessing successes from past conferences and improvement opportunities for future conferences, identifying target markets to grow the conference in the future, making sure the conference has appropriate programming for all career stages, and working with Headquarters and the upcoming host committees to create exciting worthwhile conferences. The CAB also selects the keynote speakers and assists in reviewing workshop submissions. The WE Local Advisory Board is currently part of the CAB.
The CAB consists of approximately 15 members, and meet face to face twice per year, at the Board installation in August and at the Winder Senate meeting in January or February.
The Curriculum Committee is responsible for recommending topics and input for future professional development programming, and ensures individuals with the right skill set are evaluating this material. This includes content at the WE Local conferences, section events, and virtual training. The committee also supports the development of new programming and determines new topics that will support different target audiences.
The committee consists of 15 members who work closely with the Leadership Coaching Committee. They meet twice per year, with monthly teleconferences. People who may find this committee interesting include academics and those passionate about learning!
The Editorial Board provides input, support, and insight to the professional staff of the award-winning SWE Magazine. The board suggests themes for each issue and topics for articles, and acts as a sounding board for critical issues facing SWE and women engineers in general and how best to address them in the magazine. They may also solicit articles from experts with whom they are connected. Members also help promote SWE’s editorial content via social media.
The board meets face to face at the annual conference and holds conference calls several times per year.
The Ethics Committee is responsible for administering the Procedures for Review of Member Conduct, which describes how Society members can submit complaints about code of conduct violations and the process for evaluating those complaints. This committee ensures these procedures are implemented and followed consistently and objectively. The Committee consists of at least 5 members who must have previously served on the Society Nominating Committee, Board of Directors, Board of Trustees, or as a Region Governor.
The committee meets by phone as needed when an issue arises, as well as each year at the annual conference.
If you have an interest in the dollars and cents of running a successful organization, the Finance Committee may be for you. This group advises the Board of Directors and senate on budget and financial matters, provides financial input on the development of the Society’s long term strategic plan, and assists in preparation of the proposed three-year rolling operating and conference budgets. The committee reviews the monthly financial statements of the Society, maintains the Finance Manual so all treasurers have a set of basic information to follow, and provides training and support to section/MAL treasurers on financial matters such as IRS forms and safeguarding funds.
There are currently several subcommittees, made up of 3-6 individuals, who meet as needed to focus on these specific tasks. The full committee meets monthly via teleconference. Participation on the Finance Committee is a great next step for past section, region, and MAL treasurers or other officers as some prior exposure to budgets and balance sheets is particularly valuable. General committee members can expect to spend 3-6 hours per month on committee activities, while subcommittee leads may spend 5-10.
Integrated Marketing Advisory Board
If you have strong ideas for how to increase SWE’s presence in social media or other avenues, this is the committee for you! The Integrated Marketing Advisory Board advises the Society on communications focusing on public relations and social media. We are looking for SWE members who have a passion and interest for proposing social media articles and campaign ideas to SWE’s Public Relation Team, serving as a test market for SWE marketed items. Members may also make presentations at SWE events how SWE groups can increase their public presence, as well as advise sections and other SWE groups on correct and ideal usage of the SWE brand.
Leadership Coaching Committee
The Leadership Coaching Committee, or LCC, is a key component to ensure section vitality by developing and supporting SWE leaders at all levels through consulting and training. This committee has recently undergone some changes to improve the quality of the interactions and focus their support on section vitality and leadership development, leveraging available SWE resources to support this. They also assist in new section/group development, and collaborate with other SWE committees focused on leadership development. Training is delivered to sections at the local level, and to all levels of SWE at WE Locals and the Society Annual Conference.
There are currently over 70 coaches worldwide, with several outside the US. Those interested in serving as members of the LCC should have SWE leadership experience. New coaches receive training on SWE-specific content and will receive feedback from the sections they support in order to improve their interaction and support. This committee is a great opportunity for people who are passionate about SWE’s mission, to help ensure members and sections get the most out of their SWE experience.
The Membership Committee advises the Board of Directors on membership matters, and assists in proposed strategic membership programs. Included in this committee are the Affinity Groups and the Mentoring Facilitation Work Group. The Affinity Groups promote diversity, inclusion and community-building within specific areas of SWE. As of FY18, they consist of diversity groups for Latinos, African-American, Native American, Global Engineers and LGBTQ, as well as business interest groups for Women in Government, Small Business, and Entrepreneurs. The Mentoring Facilitation Work Group assesses and increases the visibility of existing SWE mentoring programs and shares tools, resources and best practices.
The Membership Committee holds monthly conference calls to discuss ideas related to SWE’s membership. The Affinity Group Leads hold conference calls ranging from every other month to quarterly, depending on the time of year, to plan conference programming, discuss ideas and share best practices. They also frequently post on social media to share best practices and lessons learned. The Mentoring Facilitation Work Group holds monthly conference calls to discuss ideas and develop and share resources and tools.
These groups are all open to anyone, both professional and collegiate, who wants to contribute. The size of the groups varies from year to year, and the time commitment ranges from about 1-3 hours per month depending on the area of interest.
The Nominating Committee is responsible for developing a slate of candidates for open positions on the Board of Directors, the Senate, and standing committee chairs-elect. Also, at the request of the Board of Trustees, the Nominating Committee helps develop the slate of Trustees. The committee puts out a call for nominations each fall, solicits feedback on the nominees, provides feedback to all candidates (akin to a “performance assessment”) and provides a slate to the membership as outlined in the Society Bylaws and Election Manual. The committee also develops and maintains the formal Election Manual.
The 10 members of the committee serve for a period of two fiscal years on a rotating basis, that is, 5 new members roll in each year so they can be paired with a returning member “buddy”! While serving on the committee, an individual cannot be nominated for an office the committee will be slating. Historically these members came from the 10 regions, but with the dissolution of regions the members will be chosen through a general call for interest, similar to other committees.
Since this committee helps shape the future of SWE, skills that are useful include time management, tact, professionalism, and the ability to maintain confidentiality. Other skills include knowledge of SWE bylaws, procedures and the Strategic Plan, as well as understanding the SWE Leadership Competency Model.
The role typically requires 1-2 phone calls per month, regular work via email and a significant time soliciting potential candidates, evaluating, and providing feedback to the committee. During the months of October-January, phone calls increase to 1-3 times per week.Members on this committee need to be active participants by attending teleconferences, participating in email discussions, and reading appropriate documents. It is understood that everyone will not make every meeting, so it’s important to provide input via email in advance of any meetings they will miss. During the slating process, members must be able to present unbiased candidate pros and cons, not necessarily to be an advocate for every nominee.
Attendance at the Society annual conference (at your own expense) is strongly encouraged, although not required, to better familiarize yourself with the other members and your buddy!
Are you excited by inspiring the next generation of females choosing engineering and technology careers? If so, you should definitely consider joining the Outreach Committee. This committee provides valuable programs, resources, training and support for SWE members and advocates like parents and educators to use in promoting engineering as an important and exciting choice.
By getting involved in the Outreach Committee, you can:
- Work with prospective & current SWE alliance partners on opportunities for involvement with new or existing SWE outreach initiatives
- Showcase the outreach impact that SWE members are making by being part of the workgroup that collects and assesses outreach-related metrics
- Provide engineering resources and best practices for K-12 educators
- Get involved with SWENext to impact K-12 students through awards programs, producing monthly newsletters, writing content for AllTogether, sharing information about transitioning to college, and more!
Examples of STEM outreach initiatives include SWE events such as “Invent It. Build It.” and “SWENext”, “DesignLab”, or visiting local classrooms for engineering demonstrations; as well as non-SWE STEM outreach initiatives such as FIRST, Science Olympiad, and events hosted by other professional engineering societies.
The Outreach Committee welcomes all SWE members who have a passion for STEM outreach and experience with volunteering at events with K-12 students, parents, and educators. If you are a collegiate member who has loved working with K-12 students in your collegiate section, please consider being a part of this committee!
Previous SWE leadership experience at any level, including officer positions and/or outreach event planning, is highly valued. Interested SWE members are selected to fill openings through a brief interview process.
Program Development Grant Committee
Are you interested in helping new and innovative programs succeed? The Program Development Grant, or PDG Committee, is responsible for reviewing and evaluating grant applications to provide financial support for activities of its members globally. The funds are used for programs that encourage women and girls of all ages to pursue engineering studies, provide professional development for practicing women engineers, and support diversity issues and training.
The committee is looking for diverse perspectives for reviewing grant applications, including a mix of collegiate and professional members. Experience in reviewing grant proposals is not required to serve on this committee. This is also a fairly flexible volunteer activity, as grant reviews are completed by individuals according to their own schedules with a few conference calls to come to final decisions.
Women in Academia Committee
The Women in Academia, or WIA, Committee represents women engineers who have selected or are interested in an academic career path in STEM. Committee members are typically women who work in academia, and the focus is on ways to effectively communicate to, engage and support women in the academic pipeline. The committee also recommends professional development activities for the annual conference, WE Locals, and other programming throughout the year, targeting women in academia.
WIA holds monthly conference calls to plan conference programming, webinars, and discuss other ideas related to SWE and women in academia. WIA also coordinates an academic mentoring program for women in the academic pipeline. Additionally, WIA sends monthly newsletters, maintains a blog, advertises academic job openings, and posts on social media to promote women in academia. The committee size is variable but open to anyone who wants to contribute to these activities. The time commitment varies from about an hour to write a blog post up to about 2-3 hours per month to coordinate mentoring, communications, or webinars.