SWE’s Congressional Outreach Day Coincides with Hidden Figures Bill

Stars Align as SWE’s Congressional Outreach Day coincides with Senate Passage of Hidden Figures Bill. Read on for a recap of SWE's efforts to advocate for women in STEM in Washington, D.C. on March 27-28, 2019.
SWE’s Congressional Outreach Day Coincides with Hidden Figures Bill

Once again, the Society of Women Engineers and our partners convened over 150 members in Washington, D.C. to meet with elected officials and to advocate for policies that support the full inclusion of women engineers in the workforce. This year SWE had a lot of new energy, with nearly two-thirds of the attendees being first time participants.

Also, SWE members were in town to witness their advocacy at work, as the Senate unanimously passed the S. 590, the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act to award

SWE’s Congressional Outreach Day Coincides with Hidden Figures Bill
From left to right: SWE FY19 President Penny Wirsing, Representative Dan Lipinksi (D-IL), and SWE CEO Karen Horting

Congressional Gold Medals to Katherine Johnson, Dr. Christine Darden, Dorothy Vaughan (posthumously) and Mary Jackson (posthumously). SWE endorsed this legislation last year and continued to support it this year. The legislation must now pass the House of Representatives. Additionally, just days after SWE’s Congressional Outreach Days, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2019, legislation aimed at examining policies to reduce harassment in the STEM fields. That legislation was cosponsored by Senator Jack Rosen (D-NV) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and was also endorsed by SWE.

This year’s training day featured perspectives from Capitol Hill, including staff for the first chairwoman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Eddie Bernice Johnson. Sara Barber, professional staff from that committee, was joined by Kelly Riddle, a legislative assistant for the new Senator from Nevada Jacky Rosen. Both women brought up the need for women in the field to discuss their experiences with House and Senate staff regarding gender equity and stressing the importance of science and STEM research and careers overall.

This year’s reception, held in the scenic Rayburn Gold Room featured SWE President Penny Wirsing introducing U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski, a frequent friend to SWE and one of the few actual STEM professionals in Congress.

The next day, SWE members were able to hear from Chloe Kontos, executive director of the White House’s National Science and Technology Council at the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Afterwards, SWE members went on Hill visits where they were able to meet with a number of staff and elected officials. Members shared moments from some of these meetings using the hashtag #SWEAdvocacy.

For follow up, SWE members are encouraged to meet with their elected officials at their state and district offices. If you want a refresher on data or talking points before any local meetings, click here.

If you attended SWE’s 2019 Congressional Outreach Days but have not filled out a survey, please click here. Survey responses will be taken through 4/15/19.