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My Community … My SWE

SWE's Executive Director and CEO Karen Horting reflects on SWE's impact and value in 2019.
Fy19 Swe Board Member Karen Roth On Giving Back To Swe

My Community … My SweWriting this on New Year’s Eve, nursing the cold I caught on my final SWE trip of the year, I’m reflecting on 2019 and how the Society of Women Engineers is an invaluable community of like-minded women and men in engineering across the globe.

In 2019, our impact was bigger than ever before. We kicked off the year with seven WE Local conferences. From Baltimore to Bengaluru, more than 4,000 participants came together to learn, network, or find new career opportunities.

With participants in all stages of their collegiate and professional journeys, at WE Locals the sense of community is in full force. From networking receptions, to professional development sessions, to inspirational keynotes or just a conversation over a cup of coffee, the opportunities to meet new people and grow your network are endless.

Whether in your own backyard or across the globe, I hope you will consider joining us at a WE Local 2020.

Last spring, more than 150 Society members and leaders came together in Washington, D.C., for SWE’s annual congressional visits event. This two-day event includes a full afternoon of training, an evening reception at the Rayburn building, followed by a full day of visits to members’ respective representatives in both the House and Senate. Advocating issues of importance to women and girls in STEM is another great way to network with like-minded members and stakeholders.

Several issues we campaigned for during our visits came to fruition, including the Building Blocks of STEM Act that was signed into law by the president in December. The Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act was signed into law in November. Passionate about being an advocate for gender diversity in STEM and looking to make a bigger impact? Join us March 11–12, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Watch your upcoming SWE e-mails for more details.

In November, more than 16,600 attendees came together in Anaheim, California, for WE19, SWE’s largest annual conference to date. The impact could be seen during the two morning keynotes with more than 4,500 in the audience each morning. Both speakers received standing ovations.

As I looked over the room and saw women in engineering at all life stages being inspired and feeling empowered in their careers, I thought, “This is SWE!”

-Karen Horting, CAE, Executive Director & CEO

And not to be missed was the career fair, featuring 410 organizations, occupying 752 exhibit booths and 801 interview booths. Clearly, employers know that the SWE conference is the best place to find amazing women engineers at all career stages — demonstrating that SWE is having a huge impact on increasing gender diversity in the workplace.

The closing keynote at “Celebrate SWE!” by 3M’s Jayshree Seth, Ph.D., sent us off rapping about women in engineering and feeling inspired in a way that only a woman with 67 patents could do!

The best part of the conference for me is seeing the community in action, whether it was one of the 800+ SWE members serving as a volunteer, the more than 60 outstanding individuals recognized with SWE awards, or the 250 individuals who served as subject matter experts sharing their knowledge during the workshops and panels. This is what makes the SWE community so unique, rich, and impactful. Start planning now for WE20 Nov. 5–7 in New Orleans.

I wrapped up the year in India, where SWE hosted workshops in Delhi, Pune, and Bengaluru for members and engineering leaders on the impact of artificial intelligence on the future of the engineering workplace. One attendee shared on social media the value of the session and how SWE is giving women a unique place and voice in the industry, empowering them to be leaders. That makes the jet lag and head cold all worthwhile!

The WE Local India advisory board also met with the SWE HQ team, solidifying plans for WE Local Bengaluru 2020. These senior-level women leaders see the importance of expanding the SWE community in India. In Pune, we hosted the inaugural India Corporate Council meeting. With 16 corporate members to date, this group of employers is committed to working together to increase gender diversity in engineering in India through the sharing of best practices and investing in the SWE community. Thank you for your trust and support!

Through the efforts of our community, I am confident that our vision of a world with gender parity and equality in engineering will soon be a reality.

My Community … My Swe

Karen Horting, CAE
Executive Director & CEO

“My Community… My SWE” was written by Karen Horting, CAE, SWE Executive Director & CEO. This article appears in the Winter 2020 issue of SWE Magazine.