Courage: The Common Thread

It takes courage to change, to assess one’s strengths and weaknesses, to try something new, to have true dialogue, and to take a risk. At times, it may take courage to just be oneself.

A thread connecting the articles in this issue of the magazine and the theme of this conference is simple yet profound: courage. Closely associated with courage are traits such as conviction; integrity; self-knowledge; and respect for oneself, for others, and for broader issues. Having courage makes all the difference whether facing the more mundane issues of daily life or when taking a principled stand.

Linking our conference theme to courage may seem less obvious at first. Yet this theme, “A World of Opportunity Awaits,” raises the question, exactly how does one move forward to recognize and act upon those opportunities? Specifics vary according to individuals, but one commonality exists, and that is also courage. It takes courage to change, to assess one’s strengths and weaknesses, to try something new, to have true dialogue, and to take a risk. At times, it may take courage to just be oneself. The inspiring keynote addresses, professional development sessions, and affinity group meetings at WE22 are among the tools, insight, and support available to help find and tap that courage.

The article “STEM Women Scale Electoral Barriers” looks at STEM women who hold public office or who have run for public office. While bringing the expertise of the STEM profession, these women also bring many personal qualities that make them strong candidates and officeholders. One of them is courage, particularly to expose oneself to, in the words of our article, “face the slings and arrows” that accompany being in the public eye.

A related article, “From Engineering to Public Office,” marks the first year in office of Puerto Rico’s first woman secretary of transportation and public works, SWE member Eileen Vélez Vega, P.E. Here, she shares reflections on her path to this historic appointment and her tenure so far.

Sounding the Call to Action on the Climate Crisis” examines how, as the impacts of climate change have accelerated, one group’s Noble Purpose for Engineering Statement underscores the need for engineers to contribute their skills and knowledge on behalf of society.

Insights from SWE’s LGBTQ+ Affinity Group” shares the personal and professional journeys of members and allies of this group as they empower one another to advocate changes in their workplaces and beyond.

For yet another example of courage, please  see our digital exclusive, “When Women Blow the Whistle.”

The SWE founders displayed courage more than 70 years ago when they embarked upon and insisted upon having engineering careers at a time when social pressures demanded that women focus only on home and hearth. Organizing as they did for mutual support and to advocate change, it’s worthwhile to ask what today’s women engineers will do in the context of our times as they move forward, with courage.

Anne Perusek
Director of Editorial & Publications
(she, her)

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