The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) continues its engagements with congressional leadership with our recent briefing “Back To Work: How STEM Reentry Programs Can Close the Gender Work Gap.” On Tuesday, November 19, SWE held a panel in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology hearing room featuring Amanda Miranda, a reentry program alumni from Medtronic, Sandra Evers-Manly, a STEM Reentry Task Force executive sponsor from Northrop Grumman, and Shanda Hinton, an HR partner leading United Technologies’ reentry program. The briefing was introduced by Karen Horting, SWE’s executive director and chief executive officer, and moderated by Jennifer Scott, SWE’s vice president of strategic partnerships and co-founder of the STEM Reentry Task Force. The session was attended by legislative staffers from both the House and Senate and public policy liaisons from other organizations such as the National Science Foundation and the Girl Scouts of the USA.
The briefing included remarks by Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-TX, chair of the House Committee on science, space and technology and a long time supporter of women in STEM and SWE. Chairwoman Johnson stressed that we are a “nation of innovation” and that reentry programs continue to help us fuel innovation and bring women into the workforce.
Each of the panelists brought their unique perspective to the topic and discussed the initial development and success of their company-specific reentry programs. Each of the programs reflects the unique culture at each of their organizations but all programs have attracted women and men to return to the workforce after a multitude of reasons for leaving. These programs have helped educate the workforce that career breaks can be a good thing and help bring diverse experiences to the table. For more information about SWE’s partnership with iRelaunch and the STEM Reentry Task Force, please visit https://reentry.swe.org/.
This briefing followed actions SWE took in July when the Society signed a “Pledge to America’s Workers,” by actively working to provide 1,000 enhanced career opportunities over the next five years. SWE signs the Pledge in an effort to further promote diversity and inclusion efforts that support the advocacy of women and minorities in engineering and technology. SWE’s pledge is supported by two of the organization’s signature programs. The first is the STEM Reentry Task Force which addresses the need for mid- and senior-level technical experts to address talent shortages within the engineering and technology sectors. The program provides “returnships” to women and men who are returning to the technical workforce after a career break. Since its inception, more than 21 major engineering and technology corporations have partnered with SWE and iRelaunch to create return to work programs.
SWE will continue its advocacy efforts on activities like these to educate legislators and identify opportunities for the federal government to support these initiatives through grants, tax incentives or legislative actions.
This recap was written by Amanda Weissman (SWE GRPP Coordinator Elect) and Karen Horting (CAE, SWE Executive Director and CEO).
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