With all the turmoil going on in the world around us, I am thankful every day that the very essence of the Society of Women Engineers’ mission is diversity and inclusion. We serve as advocates for women in engineering and technology, but we also advocate the inclusion of all people in the profession. Quoting from our diversity and inclusion brochure, “SWE is a driving force for promoting diversity and inclusion and we actively work to create a community where the profession welcomes and respects individual, personal and career choices amongst all cultures.” This applies not only to our work with academic institutions and employers, but also within our own organization.
STEPS ON OUR JOURNEY
For the past several years, SWE leadership has focused on creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment within the Society. While our efforts may not always achieve the goals we have set forth, we cannot hope to accomplish those goals if we do not actively focus on them. And we acknowledge that as an organization, we still have a lot of work to do.
But any diversity and inclusion professional will tell you that it is a journey. And I think SWE is making some notable progress on our journey.
As an organization, we are committed to these core principles:
- Developing women in engineering across socioeconomic strata and occupational focus
- Encouraging interest in and active participation of women and girls of underrepresented groups, including (but not limited to) African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans
- Supporting women and respecting their differences in family status, sexual orientation, sexual identity, age, and physical ability
- Working collaboratively with men to confront gender bias and create a more inclusive engineering community
A SUITE OF RESOURCES
To support these efforts, SWE has developed a suite of resources for our members, leaders, and stakeholders.
Using our Inclusion Solutions training cards (U.S. and India/Asia versions) is a great way to make a potentially difficult topic more approachable and help individuals create an open dialogue around diversity within an organization.
We also have our Diversity & Inclusion Knowledge Cards. SWE partnered with the global multidisciplinary engineering, design, and consulting firm Arup to present the flashcards for organizations looking for best practices designed to explore and engage employees to understand the value of diversity in the workplace. The thought-provoking and data-driven cards give organizations an avenue to begin meaningful change in their organizational structures. They do so by welcoming conversations about unconscious bias, which promotes more perspectives at every level.
In addition, the Diversity in Engineering eLearning courses offer a narrated eLearning series that was developed to promote a culture that honors, respects, and includes various perspectives and voices. This process helps promote a culture with diverse perspectives in the workplace.
Each of the modules takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and a variety of topics are covered, including Confronting Gender Bias and Managing Diverse Teams.
Lastly, SWE’s newest resources are our workbooks and facilitator guides. These support our Inclusion Solutions training cards to make group dialogues easier and more productive.
You can learn more about SWE’s D&I resources here.
“The thought-provoking and data-driven cards give organizations an avenue to begin meaningful change in their organizational structures. TheY do so by welcoming conversations about unconscious bias, which promotes more perspectives at every level.”
THE ROLE OF AFFINITY GROUPS
Let’s not forget SWE’s growing network of affinity groups, launched 10 years ago. These groups are a great way for members to share knowledge, concerns, and experiences with one another and SWE partners and to provide feedback to SWE leaders on making the Society more inclusive and valuable.
The SWE affinity groups are building community, providing professional development opportunities, and empowering like-minded individuals. Learn more about affinity groups here.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
SWE is a place for women of all backgrounds to come together and share unique perspectives to advance both themselves and the field of engineering.
I want to be clear that I, together with the board of directors, am committed to making SWE a welcoming place for all.
From our face-to-face events, whether large or small, U.S. to global, to our social media platforms, incivility, disrespect, or any other exclusionary behavior will not be tolerated. This does not mean we need to always agree. But we need to respect and value diverse viewpoints and voices. Let SWE lead by example and be the change we want to see in the world.
Karen Horting, CAE
Executive Director & CEO
Related SWE content: