By Troy Eller English, SWE Archivist
SWE President Lt. Col. Arminta Harness, F.SWE, was surprised, intrigued — and confused — in 1977 when she and leaders of other women’s organizations were invited to a White House briefing on the Panama Canal Treaties and a foreign policy meeting at the State Department. Policymakers, it seemed, hoped SWE’s invitation to such meetings would generate policy support among the Society’s members.
By the 1990s, however, SWE had reached a point where it could hope to be the influencer, rather than the influenced. In 1994, Patricia Eng, P.E., F.SWE, and Past President Suzanne Jenniches, F.SWE, testified in Congress on the findings of the Society’s 1993 National Survey of Women and Men Engineers, marking the first time members represented the Society on Capitol Hill. Since then, SWE members have increasingly found a seat at the table in legislative hearings, congressional visits, and policy hearings, educating policymakers to advance women in STEM and society overall.