The Academic Leadership for Women in Engineering program (ALWE) is a year-round program committed to providing female academics in engineering with tangible skills and knowledge needed to pursue, acquire and gainfully maintain institutional leadership positions at a university. SWE also hopes this program provides women with skills to help them grow personally as leaders. ALWE hosts 45 women from September to April and offers professional coaching, virtual speaker sessions with leaders in academia on a variety of topics related to leadership and career development, curated content on Advance, and includes participation in SWE’s annual WE conference. SWE is grateful for the support of the Henry Luce Foundation to make this program possible Read on for Gisella’s experience with ALWE this year!
I wrote a piece on the FY21 ALWE program and since it is my second time attending it, I felt the need to write about the FY22 ALWE program as well. In FY21, we had just started to understand the pandemic. In FY22, we were slowly adapting to this new world without addressing most of what we experience in academia. This FY22 ALWE program did exactly that. It addressed a lot of what we experienced daily. It took all our comments and suggestions from the previous year and transformed a weekend program to a long-lasting experience of a monthly journey for at least an academic semester.
The FY22 program started with a networking session. We were all used to video conferences at this point, and we are better at understanding the cues on when to start talking without talking over somebody else. The whole event was prepared to talk about our goals and meet each other. There was plenty of time to know each other and different breakout room to interact with people all over the world. I met quite a few of potential collaborators. It was a great feeling to know this wonderful group of academic peers from different backgrounds when the first session started.
I was blown away by the quality and richness of the content of Days 1 and 2 of ALWE. It would be unfair to point out just one of them because they were all useful and they taught us so much. We analyzed things in a way that I have never done before and most importantly, as a non-tenure track faculty, it showed me all these possibilities for leadership roles that are not necessarily attached to a regular title series. ALWE is truly about preparing you for leadership roles.
The FY22 program consisted in an inspiring panel discussion with Deans in engineering, a brilliant session on how to exercise power & influence in academic settings, an outstanding discussion on DEIBA (diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and accessibility) in roles in academia, an extremely important session in being intentional about relationship-building, a powerful session on how strategic leadership can generate better outcomes and an amazing session on delegation and support. The program also included guided network sessions. Although all sessions resonated with me in one way or another, I would like to share what I learned from Jodi Detjen’s session. We must be intentional on hiring good people. We need to delegate so that we can “reframe the do it all” mentality. We are always building our own support network and ALWE is one of them.
If you are considering attending ALWE next year, do it! Some of the perks include WE conference registration if you attend the entire ALWE sessions. Trust me, you will. This is a great opportunity to find collaborators, friends and to professional development. Kudos to Rachel Porcelli from being an amazing host of the program!