SWE leadership gathered this past weekend in Houston, Texas to discuss and vote upon current issues in the Society. We took the opportunity to debate upon long-term policies affecting every member of SWE, such as the Vision Statement and the structure of our collegiate leadership. We also voted upon motions for procedures that will take effect immediately within committees.
One of the most exciting roles of the Senate is to catalyze change for women and the Society through work on Mega Issues, which are challenges that the Society has identified as important to address in the coming year. The Senate is privileged to currently lead the work on two Mega Issues. The first deals with the issues that women face surrounding work-life integration for women in engineering. Through hundreds of surveys and interviews, the committee on this Mega Issue identified the main problems in the workplace and solutions offered by some companies. The committee plans to distribute a Top Ten list of best practices for companies to employ that are effective in establishing work-life integration for women. An online handbook is also in the works as a guide for working women and students entering the working world as a resource on how to create and maintain a favorable balance. In the long term, the team aims to create a SWE Standard of expectations for companies to support women in achieving work-life balance, and implement a compelling SWE reward program to recognize those who meet those standards. This exciting work positions SWE as a primary resource for an important topic today for women.
Understanding how engaged SWE members are and what motivates them to be a part of the Society is the other Mega Issue that the Senate is tackling. From their research, they are identifying best practices from sections on how to engage members. Please participate in this survey here to share your experiences so we can distribute them to all of you and increase your member participation. (We still need the hyperlink)
While we drive change in the field of engineering as a whole, the main function of the Senate is to create internal change through discussing, amending and voting upon proposed motions by our members. The main topics of discussion included the structure of collegiate leadership and the repayment of a loan within SWE. On the issue of collegiate leadership, we are working to formulate an optimal structure at the Region level for managing the collegiate sections. In large regions such as ours, the Region Collegiate Representatives are responsible for keeping in contact with over 50 section presidents, while the RCRs of smaller sections can have more intimate relationships with collegiate sections. We decided to leave the maximum number of Representatives capped at two per region, but formulate and consider other options in future years as to the structure of the Region Collegiate Team. The position of the Alternate Senator is also under debate since it is currently a ill-defined role across the Society, and will most likely be part of the restructuring of the collegiate team.
As I mentioned, we also heavily debated the repayment of an internal loan. To provide some background, the loan was taken out of a reserve fund in FY10 during the economic downturn to fund vital activities within SWE. Since then, the structure of SWE’s financial reserves have changed, which created questions around whether or not the original fund needed to be replenished by FY15 as was originally intended. The Senate decided to table the discussion while the finance committee performs further analysis.
Looking forward to seeing you at the Regional Conference in New York!