Opening Thoughts on SWE 2017

With the hashtags #We17, #WomenMakeUsBetter and #BalanceTheEquation all over the twitterverse, it is evident that the Society of Women Engineers Conference in Austin is all about #STEMinism. As companies attempt to recruit, retrain and promote women into positions of leadership and technical excellence there is an accompanying social push to redefine gender roles in the workforce to reach a level of equality that has been unprecedented in the tech sector. We need girls to believe they can be engineers, scientists and mathematicians; they must be encouraged to pursue degrees and careers in STEM to herald the next generation tools, processes and consumer products that will shape the 21rst century.

As an engineer, the conference offers an opportunity to understand how professionals and collegiates can support STEM K-12 initiatives while balancing career and life goals. Talks featured in the program tracks include Strategic Leadership, Career Management and Life Transitions, Innovation and Disruption, Advocating for Change and Inclusion and Cultural Awareness. The Lightning Talks imitate the success of TED Talks and focus on a quick look into these tracks, providing a synopsis of dos and don’t to follow to succeed in your endeavors in and out of the office.

You’d be surprised at how heavy the maternity and life balance element was during the conference, and how many moms brought their tiny bundles of joy to be able to attend and benefit from the content. Women want it all these days and they have found out that to achieve overall satisfaction they need champions that make the workforce more mom and wife friendly. Women are expected to find success in their job roles without sacrificing home life responsibilities therefore their spouses and partners need to lean in to take over tasks that were traditionally seen as female. This also requires that employers become aware of the value their female employees bring to the table from a diversity of thought and experience perspective. Successful moms are successful project managers and leaders that use the available resources and budgets to make the impossible happen. Any woman with this skill set should be the most coveted recruit in the industry.

The opportunities to network at this event are infinite. Boeing, Lockheed, Air Products, Medtronics, Rockwell, UTC, Toyota, BP, ExxonMobil, amongst others are hiring interviewing thousands of candidates during the Career Fair. Because companies need new blood to energize their products and optimize processes, there a lot of positions and job roles to choose from at all levels of experience. Executives and VPs are taking the time to invite interested parties to hospitality suites and company sponsored talks. LinkedIn works great to capture these contacts and touch base in the near future.

Running from room to room can become a chore, especially if the presentation fills up due to popularity or interest so a back up choice is a must. Download the app and build a schedule with enough time to walk around and explore the sights and avoid becoming fatigued. There is a lot to learn and a lot to accomplish in 4 days. Phew!

Enjoy!

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