Spring has finally arrived in Chicago. The trees are budding and the flower beds are adorned with daffodils and crocuses — a fitting time to reflect on the old and welcome the new.
This year I am especially proud to reflect on a number of transformations, beginning with SWE’s WE Local conferences. Launched three years ago with just two conferences, we are now hosting seven conferences on three continents. With just one conference to go in Berlin, we have helped more than 3,700 women in engineering “Meet Locally. Learn Socially”! Well received by attendees, sponsors, and volunteers, each conference follows a similar format relevant for all career stages. If you haven’t attended a WE Local, please join us next year! The schedule can be found at https://welocal.swe.org/.
Having just returned from WE Local India, I cannot believe how quickly SWE’s global expansion has gained traction. Our HQ team works with 57 global affiliates and 50 global ambassadors to facilitate engagement and best-practices sharing. This year’s WE Local India, held in Bengaluru for the first time, was our biggest event in India to date. More than 1,000 women attended three days of professional development, networking, plenary panels, a poster session, keynote speakers, and a career fair. More than 20 senior women in engineering working in Bengaluru served as local advisors. Their participation was key to our success, and they beamed with pride throughout the event!
Our first global research project, “Walking the Tightrope,” an examination of bias in India’s engineering workplace, drew strong interest from engineering employers in India and local Indian media. Multiple corporate roundtables were held in January in cities across India to disseminate the results. WE Local India included a VIP reception that shared the research, and more importantly, provided employers in attendance with bias interrupter tools and best practices.
SWE’s biggest transformation, however, has been in member engagement. Once simply called membership, with a very transactional focus, member engagement has emerged to focus on building relationships with members. From a ticketing system to track and respond to member inquiries, to member materials tailored to each member segment, to the updated Advance Learning Center that provides one-click registration and is mobile friendly, SWE is focused on meeting the needs of members at all career and life stages. And, coming soon, the refreshed swe.org will have a new look and feel, have better search capabilities, and be more user friendly.
I am so excited to close FY19 with 40,520 members — the largest in our history! This tells us that the transformations are good for SWE, positioning us for continued growth and relevance — a fitting way to honor the pioneering women and men who founded the Society 70 years ago.
Karen Horting, CAE
Executive Director & CEO