“Change is not accidental, it is the result of tireless persistence.”
~Natalie Vanderspiegel, Live Out Loud
This is true in all organizations, including the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I dedicate this blog to thanking those leaders who have championed significant steps forward for the inclusion of our transgender community. Thank you for courageously challenging the status quo and the years of effort shepherding this cultural change. Your legacy strengthens our Society.
- Thank you, FY18 Scholarship Team for spurring these discussions.
- Thank you, FY18 Board of Directors for standing up for inclusion.
- Thank you, 2018 LGBTQ+ & Ally Affinity Group Leaders, for being a sounding board and resource.
- Thank you, FY18 & FY19 Board of Trustees for all the effort to notify our donors.
- Thank you, SWE Headquarters Staff for all the effort to notify our corporate donors.
- And I thank those of you reading this blog who will take action to be more inclusive of the transgender community.
In FY18, SWE’s Board of Directors (BOD) made the decision to ensure our Scholarship Program was inclusive of the transgender community. In January 2019, after notifying all living donors, the scholarship application adopted transgender inclusive language. In January 2020, the SWE scholarship application is scheduled to include an update to continue clarifying SWE’s intent regarding inclusion and resolve any conflict with the terminology women or female. The change in scholarship language came to fruition after several years of collaborative effort of many teams across SWE and the staff at headquarters.
The change provided clarity in SWE’s position of inclusion for the transgender community. And it was driven by allies – cis-gender, straight allies to be specific – who had no personal gain in the change but believed in a greater mission of inclusion.
SWE believes so strongly in inclusion of the transgender community that we will not accept funds from organizations or individuals that stipulate exclusion. This is truly a grand gesture from the organization; since as a nonprofit, donations are a critical resource.
The journey to inclusion is one with no end.
I am proud that the review of SWE’s programs and services in terms of transgender inclusion has continued. The FY20 We Local awards program was released earlier this week and I thank this team for continuing our journey and ensuring our We Local awards program is inclusive of the transgender community.
This has been a journey over several years with many champions working tirelessly to move the needle forward on inclusion. This was a great step for SWE and one to celebrate. We know that this journey does not end here … I’m excited to see the steps we take to further our mission in FY20.
How will you make a difference?
Let’s continue the conversation on transgender inclusion in SWE. I encourage all SWE members to join the LGBTQ+ & Ally Affinity Group on their Facebook page. What steps is your SWE Group doing to be more inclusive of the transgender community?
Let’s have the conversation!
SWE Director of Diversity & Inclusion
Natalie Vanderspiegel (she/her/hers) serves as the Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She works at Solar Turbines advocating for a team that builds and tests robustly overhauled natural gas turbines for use around our world. Natalie lives in Dallas, TX with her wife and their dog. Her educational background includes degrees in Ceramic Engineering and Engineering Management from Missouri University of Science & Technology (MS&T).
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Society of Women Engineers and/or Solar Turbines.