Ladies’ Month

The bountiful season for women in engineering

Women in engineering are not going unnoticed. According to a number of statistics, most of which have been closely followed by EA, female participation in engineering fields is on the upswing. Many universities are making concerted efforts to nurture this trend. Organizations and societies nationwide are no an integral part to this movement, and May (kicking off with Mother’s Day this weekend) is their month.

The grandmamma of them all is IEEE’s Women In Engineering International Leadership Conference (WIE LIC), to be held May 23-24 at the San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, California. Fully equipped with a two-day, pre-conference virtual track a week prior to the event itself, this will be the mecca for many women in the industry for the first half of 2016. IEEE’s stated vision is for attendees to “create communities that fuel innovation, facilitate knowledge sharing and provide support through highly interactive sessions designed to foster discussion and collaboration.” The organization promotes an increased focus on professional development for mid-level and senior women. Its mission statement is to “inspire, engage and advance women in engineering”—which is laconic enough, done through over 600 affinity groups and its 18,000 plus worldwide members. Tools for today’s female engineering prospects include pre-university outreach, technical seminars, networking events, educational programs, and humanitarian projects.

WIE LIC’s Pre-Conference Virtual Track is two days (May 16-17) of one-hour webinars provided by various keynote speakers. Topics include “Moving From Individual Contributor to Leader”, “Empowering Values-Based Leadership in a Diverse Workforce”, and “How to Prepare & Present Powerful, Career-Enhancing Presentations”.

The conference begins in earnest on the 23rd, and has a conveniently organized agenda. It’s compartmentalized into five “tracks”: Innovation, Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, Executive Leadership, and Emerging Technology. Each track includes its own chairperson, sponsor, and panel sessions. These don’t begin until 10:30 AM each day; the first two and a half hours are devoted to plenary sessions that include the conference’s introduction, keynote speakers, and technology demonstrations.

The following week, women will have the option to engage in collaboration without leaving their desk. The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Professional Virtual Career Fair takes place on May 25 from 1-4 PM. Targeting female professionals in the engineering and technology fields seeking new career opportunities, and those looking for career advancement, the virtual fair provides live interaction and one-on-one discussions with recruiters through online chat, where women can share resumes and experience, as well as schedule second round interviews. SWE’s most important, in-the-flesh event doesn’t come until much later on the calendar: the SWE16 Annual Conference will take place in Philadelphia this year, October 27-29.

Next month is not too shabby, either. The United Kingdom’s WES (Women’s Engineering Society) will hold its official National Women In Engineering Day on June 23rd.

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