Global Member Focus Groups Results & Next Steps

In an effort to better engage SWE members with global backgrounds, SWE conducted a series of remote focus groups targeting members who were born outside of the United States. We're pleased to share some preliminary findings.
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In conducting multiple SWE Global Membership Focus Groups during January of 2019, data was gathered to identify the engagement and satisfaction level of members born outside of the United States with the following: SWE membership, SWE local activities and conferences, leadership and learning, and the SWE image. Participants were also given the opportunity to identify ways SWE could improve its engagement with global members (both living inside and outside of the United States).

Through this effort, feedback was gathered to inform SWE as it seeks to improve the resources it provides to SWE members born outside of the U.S. For this research effort, SWE also sought to identify how SWE members born outside of the U.S. could be partners to SWE in expanding its global community outside of the United States.

Through the process, a significant amount of data was received and is still being processed and reviewed by SWE. We are pleased to share select key findings SWE will develop strategies to respond to throughout the next year.

Key Findings:

  • Developing intentional space for global members at WE19 (in addition to keeping the global outreach a focal point of the Membership Center) will yield higher engagement rates at Annual Conference.
  • Providing a special communication targeted to Annual Conference global participants will help the group feel more included.
  • Developing targeted outreach and marketing about SWE membership towards graduate students with non-US backgrounds will increase their membership and engagement rates.
  • Promote global events within the United States so members can better advocate for participation in these events from their global networks.
  • Developing more webinars focused on adapting to different cultural settings for global participants will address an unmet need within the content on the Advance Learning Center.
  • Continue efforts to diversify SWE leadership at the Society level (both within the board and committees).

The discussions in each focus group centered on four main themes: membership, SWE HQ led events, leadership and learning resources, and the brand/image of SWE. A re-occurring prompting question was around the inclusion individuals felt at different stages and areas of their SWE participation.  SWE is continuing to evaluate, learn, and understand how to best support members within our global community. We are thankful for the initial feedback received through this process and will continue to provide updates as we are able.

Participant Profile & Selection:

The target audience for these focus groups were SWE members living inside the United States and born outside of the United States. In December of 2018, an email to SWE members living inside the United States was sent that invited individuals to self-identify if they were 1. A member of SWE, 2. Born outside of the United States and 3. Willing to participate in a focus group to better understand their membership experience.

Approximately 161 individuals responded that qualified for the focus group (were born outside of the United States and willing to participate in a focus group) and were invited to participate in one of three remote focus groups held at different times to accommodate different schedules and time zones within the United States.

Of the invited 161 individuals, approximately 40 people registered and attended one of the three focus groups held at different times during late January. Participants in the focused groups ranged from students to senior level engineers. Of the 40 participants, 20 had been a member of SWE for less than three years, 12 have been members for between 4 to 9 years, and 8 were members for 10 years or more (with the longest being a member of 16 years).