Every year, SWE tackles the difficult task of summarizing a year’s worth of broad-ranging, interesting, and timely research about women in engineering. SWE’s annual literature review, now in its 19th year, serves as a summary of the most significant research on women in engineering and STEM published in the past year. The literature review team selects from hundreds of articles, research studies, books, and papers on relevant subjects, in a variety of disciplines, to develop this comprehensive document. The literature review provides analysis and insight into the research questions social scientists pose regarding the experiences of women in engineering, as well as experiences of female students in university classrooms and community colleges.
Among the focus areas in this year’s State of Women in Engineering issue are insights into the current state of mind of SWE members and ways employers can attract and retain the best and most diverse engineering talent in their industry. In collaboration with People at Work, SWE conducted a survey of women engineers in the workforce to understand what they seek from employers. The findings from this survey of more than 2,900 women engineers help uncover areas of focus for employers who want to improve the employee experience for women in engineering and technology at their organizations.
We also take another look at students in community colleges moving into four-year engineering curricula. Phase I of this study was completed and discussed in the 2018 literature review. Phase II, completed in 2019, offers a compelling look at why this pathway toward an engineering degree has the potential to increase diversity in the engineering workforce. Results and conclusions from Phase II of the study indicate that improved advising is needed for transfer students, and more financial support is critical. Focusing on providing more information on career pathways, strengthening of mentoring and networking relationships, and boosting students’ confidence are critical for persistence in STEM for transfer students.
The articles we’ve noted here represent only a portion of this issue overall. We encourage you to become familiar with the wealth of information contained herein. Our State of Women in Engineering issue is an essential tool on the path of fulfilling the SWE mission and achieving a diverse engineering workforce. Thank you for joining in this important endeavor.
Cindy Hoover, F.SWE
FY20 SWE President
Karen Horting, CAE
Executive Director and CEO
“Final Words: An Essential Tool” was written by Karen Horting, CAE, SWE Executive Director & CEO; and Cindy Hoover, F.SWE, FY20 SWE President. This article appears in the 2020 State of Women in Engineering issue of SWE Magazine.