With this issue, we wrap up the Society’s 70th anniversary year while welcoming something new in the form of the WE20 virtual conference. At the same time that we are celebrating and honoring SWE’s legacy, a key component and long-standing tradition is taking a different shape.
This year, rather than defining WE20 by physical location, the conference experience is compelled to move into a virtual space where those traditions of networking, mutual support, and professional development will still take place.
In keeping with the WE20 theme to “Practice Curiosity,” our feature story “Engineering and the Arts: Working for a Better World” offers striking examples of innovation. At first glance, art and engineering may appear to be such distinct and separate processes and approaches to problem-solving that one might wonder how the two could merge — yet the women featured here are proof of the synchronicity between them.
Another aspect of SWE’s legacy is research — gathering data to better understand the experiences and status of women in engineering. Nearly 30 years ago, the Society undertook a groundbreaking survey of the experiences of men and women engineers across 22 engineering societies. In the article “Some Things Have Changed, Some Have Not: Revisiting SWE’s 1993 Survey of Engineers,” we examine those findings in light of the progress and challenges of today.
We take a more personal and intimate look at the SWE founders in the article “SWE Stories, Tales from the Founders Families.” Through interviews with their adult children, we come to see what it was like to have an engineer mother at a time when most women did not work outside the home, let alone in traditionally male professions. By sharing their memories, insights, and photographs, the founders’ children have provided a unique window into family life in the ’50s, ’60s, and beyond.
Rather than defining WE20 by physical location, the conference experience is compelled to move into a virtual space where those traditions of networking, mutual support, and professional development will still take place.
This year marks the centennial of women in the United States winning the right to vote. We offer a tribute to those suffragists, to whom we owe so much, and also urge you to vote. Toward that end, we reached out to both of the presidential campaigns, seeking responses to questions of interest to women in engineering and the STEM professions. See “Society of Women Engineers Questions to the 2020 Presidential Candidates” to learn more.
And, as always, this conference issue provides information on special events and highlights and celebrates the accomplishments of the WE20 award recipients with an extensive awards section.
Lastly, turn to the back of the magazine for a special surprise — a chance to “practice curiosity,” be creative, and engage in an ancient art form that has current engineering relevance. Our origami insert located there is just the beginning, though. You can visit https://bit.ly/2Gqvo9W to download additional add-ons, color options, and more. And while you might not be physically next to your fellow conference participants, you can share your origami creations on social media using: #WE20 #PracticeCuriosity and #LifeIsOn.
Be enriched by your conference experience and enjoy!
Director of Editorial & Publications