Advancing Women in Leadership

The entire SWE leadership is working to encourage and sponsor diverse candidates for leadership positions, as well as mentoring upcoming diverse candidates to ensure they have access to SWE experiences that will prepare them for a future Society leadership position.

We learned in this issue of SWE Magazine that a record number of women in the United States are aiming for Senate and gubernatorial offices. As the article points out, “Whether these women candidates will go on to receive their party’s nomination — and also win their general elections in November — remains to be seen. But the first step toward greater gender parity in politics begins with higher numbers of women candidates.”

Our source for this information, the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is nationally recognized as the leader of scholarly research and current data on women’s political participation in the United States. The center’s mission is to promote greater knowledge and understanding about the role of women in American politics, enhance women’s influence in public life, and expand the diversity of women in politics and government.

There is considerable evidence that women legislators give greater priority to women’s issues than their male colleagues, making the center’s mission critical. And recent Supreme Court actions show how important it is that we have women’s voices represented at all levels of government. With midterm elections taking place this fall, I encourage you to make sure your voice and values are represented. Many election policies and procedures regarding voter registration and early voting have changed since the 2020 election cycle. Visit https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote for the latest official information.

Diversifying SWE leadership

Making sure we have diverse representation in our Society leadership is equally important. At SWE, we acknowledge and respect the value of a diverse community at all levels of the organization. We consider diversity as a whole. This includes, but is not limited to, demographic diversity (race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, geography, etc.), experiential diversity (engineering discipline, industry, and other affinities and abilities), and cognitive diversity (how people approach problems and think about things).

The entire SWE leadership (not just the nominating committee) is working to encourage and sponsor diverse candidates for leadership positions, as well as mentoring upcoming diverse candidates to ensure they have access to SWE experiences that will prepare them for a future Society leadership position. In addition, all experiences now qualify — including within companies, government agencies or nonprofits other than SWE. This helps to broaden the candidate pool and thereby promote diversity and inclusion.

The Society-level Call for Nominations is open. Consider submitting your name or encouraging a friend or colleague to submit theirs. I especially urge our members outside the United States to nominate themselves. As the problems of the 21st century grow more complex, leadership that represents the diversity of all our membership will help us grow and thrive, serving our members by continuing as the leading resource for women in engineering and technology.

For more information and resources, visit https://bit.ly/3bFeVyD.

Learning resources for all career stages

Looking to build your leadership skills for career advancement? SWE has a treasure trove of resources to help, regardless of your career stage. First and foremost is our Advance Learning Center (ALC). We have heard your requests for changes to the ALC and, in July, we unveiled a refreshed platform. One new feature is live captioning in addition to closed captioning for on-demand content, making our materials more accessible.

Additionally, ALC content is now easier to navigate. We have simplified the categories by creating learning pathways according to each SWE content track. Within the ALC you will find: self-guided eLearning courses; micro learning content such as tools and templates; on-demand webinars; and high-quality, multimodule content covering a variety of topics. These include project management, leadership fundamentals, and inclusive leadership. Plus, we continue to offer translated content for SWE’s global membership.

For women in academia looking to pursue leadership opportunities, SWE offers the Academic Leadership for Women in Engineering (ALWE) program. The overarching purpose of ALWE is to provide women academics in engineering the tangible skills and knowledge needed to pursue, acquire, and gainfully maintain institutional leadership positions at a university, and skills to help them grow personally as leaders. Participants in the ALWE program experience year-round workshops with interactive sessions that provide best practices to advance in academia while creating opportunities and mechanisms to network across institutions. This program is generously supported by the Henry Luce Foundation Inc.

In addition, SWE offers numerous opportunities to build your leadership skills through in-person programming. The eXXec program, for example, provides a safe, personal, and engaging leadership development experience for 18–20 influential leaders, including the opportunity to form a peer support network during and after the event. To obtain the most out of the program, attendees are encouraged to engage fully with the process, including multiple pre- and post-event learning opportunities, all focused around the three pillars of leading self, leading people, and leading change. The next program is June 26–29, 2023, in Chicago. Registration is open.

Whether you aspire to political office, SWE leadership at the local level or the Society level, or a leadership role in your organization, SWE has the resources and network to help you succeed and advance on your own terms.

Karen Horting, CAE
Executive Director & CEO
(she, her)

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