SWE’s Annual Conference, WE – A Reflection and Look Forward


Natalie, Amy Jo, and Martha getting our WE11 Conference Programs signed by Stacey!

This morning my Facebook memories reminded me that five years ago today I was attending my first SWE Annual Conference in Chicago, IL with the photo to the left. For those that haven’t experienced a SWE Annual Conference (usually abbreviated WE then the year of the conference, so WE16 for this year) it is the “world’s largest conference for women engineers.” This description doesn’t do it justice because as I look forward to attending my sixth conference, I can attest that it is truly magnificent opportunity to grow, network, and connect with the SWE community. The keynotes, networking opportunities, speaker events, the career fair, and a variety of satellite activities (do yourself a favor and plan some chill out time in the lava lounge) provide different avenues for attendees to take value away from the conference experience.

Getting started, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the huge variety of things to do every day, so I’d like to share some tips on how to maximize your experience. As a first time attendee and a proud introvert, I was thankful to have Martha Walker, a proven conference veteran staying with me to show me the ropes that first year – including the Hospitality Suites (yes, even professionals can attend them … just ask before grabbing the swag). The jam-packed schedule was daunting and I found it frustrating when I started building my schedule and realized that I couldn’t possibly attend every session that I found interesting. It would have been easy for me to have been lost in it all and resort to crashing in the mountain high pile of conference bags tucked in the quiet corner behind registration … no really, the bags are padded and insulated – I have thought about it😉. Another thing that surprised me was how many people I got to meet and interact with and what it felt like to be in the gender majority, especially when talking about work and technical issues. It’s a unique and empowering experience that I would recommend to everyone (this is also a truly amazing opportunity to allow male advocates to experience first-hand what it is like to be a part of the gender minority … many male advocates I have talked to refer to their first time experiencing this as a pivotal point in their advocacy journey.)

I am glad I had done my prep and grateful that I had supportive SWEsters around me. So for those who haven’t yet found your Martha, are new/newer to the conference, or are looking for more ways to maximize your conference experience, below are some excellent resources that will help you get prepared.

  1. Erin Winick’s Blogpost titled “A Collegiate’s Guide to WE16, SWE Annual Conference” … I know this post was written with collegiates in mind, but this blog appeals to professionals as well. She covers all the basics: packing, the career fair, planning your schedule, networking … and the infamous ribbon bar at medium.com/@scichic/
  2. The Conference Website at we16.swe.org and the mobile app at we16.swe.org/about-we16/we16-conference-app/
  3. Watch the recordings of the SWE WE16 Webinar Series at swe.org – they can be easily found with “WE16” as your search option. The series includes the following:
    • WE16 Orientation
    • What Not to Wear – SWE Conference Edition
    • Networking for Newbies
    • Career Fair Savvy

As a veteran SWE Annual Conference attendee, I am excited to be in my final preparations for WE16 in Philadelphia in less than two weeks! I have tested a lot of tips over these years … personally, the one that has been most valuable came from SWEster Amy Hammar when she told me to push myself to meet at least one new person as each event but to balance that with scheduling downtime for yourself to recharge each day. She was so right, you have to listen to yourself and take care of yourself in order to get the most value out of your conference experience.

Here’s to looking back five years from now and celebrating the continued friendships of my SWEsters!


#WE16   #SWEsters   #RegionBSenate   @SWETalk   @SWE.Bee1   #SWEBee

October Monthly Senate Call

The October Senate Monthly Meeting focused on the schedule of events for #WE16, including a review of the proposed bylaws amendments that will be in front of the Senate for a vote at #WE16.
There was a healthy discussion on motion S-1704 on the size of Region Councils; including participation by several motion authors. A lot of good points were brought up both in favor and against the motion. I encourage all Region B members to read this motion and openly share their thoughts with the Senators. We have setup a dedicated blog entry to allow Region B members to engage with each other on this topic – please visit it here: https://sonorasenate.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/discussion-on-motion-s-1704-region-councils
We also reviewed the two competing motions on the Collegiate Director role (S-1702 and S-1703) – again, I encourage all Region B members to read these motions and openly share their thoughts with the Senators. This is extremely important to collect the voice and feedback from our Collegiate members.

The second session of the October Senate Meeting will occur on Monday evening. If you have any feedback for the Senate, please make sure you provide it ahead of that meeting so we can work to gain answers for any of your questions.


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Discussion on Motion S-1704 Region Councils

Link to S-1704 Region Councils Motion:  http://senate.swe.org/uploads/6/5/2/6/65264045/s-1704-region-councils-v1.1.pdf 

The following was posted to the Senate Discussion Board in regards to feedback from a Region B member. We will keep you updated as we hear more.

Please feel free to comment on the blog post if you have questions and/or feedback on motion S-1704.

“Based on feedback from a member, I would like to request additional information on this motion. The lack of a quorum is rarely an issue within my region (especially when meetings agendas include an item that will require quorum) – so the pro justification of this motion doesn’t seem to outweigh the con justification.

  1. What percentage of regions had to delay a vote in FY16 and FY15 due to a lack of quorum?
  2. For those that had a lack of quorum, was there a published agenda before the meeting that indicated there was a voting topic scheduled or was the motion made during the meeting?
  3. For those regions that have experienced this as an issue, have those sections flexed the option to only have 1 section rep per section as most councils only require a single rep with the option to have additional reps?”

Update – October 8, 2016:

The following is an update that was provided to the Senators in regards to this motion. This was provided by Lisa Rimpf, Director of Regions.

I’ve collected responses from several fellow motion makers and will summarize the responses:

While the issue of quorum for the Region/Member at Large (MAL) Council is identified in the amendment verbiage, and both Regions A and G indicated specific issues with achieving quorum during meetings and needing to delay votes, there are several other factors which have also been identified as drivers for this proposed change.

  • The intent of the motion was not to focus on the quorum piece but to move the regions forward towards a more ideal governance state. Currently we have a lot of eager / willing leaders serving in these section rep roles which end up being duplicate work by the same people. The reason we kept the section reps when we moved to the Senate was mostly due to not wanting to eliminate leadership opportunities or invoke too may changes all at once (came out of the FY08 Governance Task Force). It’s been 8 years since that change and some of those same section reps could be serving in other more beneficial SWE roles that would have more value / not be duplicate work. Most of what we discuss as a region and vote on isn’t anything that should really require representation proportionally from sections according to their numbers – it’s budget or bylaws or discussion which would be served by having 1 person from each section not up to 4.
  • In the FY17 Region Reports due on September 20 there was extensive commentary from professional sections related to vacant leadership roles of officers, trouble filling leadership roles, and leadership burnout.
  • From a current Region Governor: “As a governor, I would rather have had the volunteer’s time be spent supporting activities at the section level than attending Region Council meetings, especially as we transition into a governance structure not focused on geographic regions. Furthermore, given the travel requirements associated with attending the Council meetings, it’s an undue expense of section/MAL/region funds to send multiple section representatives to bring information back to the section.”
  • Several regions have encountered challenges filling the MAL representative role and especially when there are multiple MAL representatives for a region; the MAL executive council has discussed and believes that proceeding with this motion will be beneficial.
  • The FY16 Regions Working Group of the Governance review evaluated this idea and members of that group initiated the amendment. The team’s full report can be found here: http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/images/Governance/timeline-pdfs/2016-07-Region-Subgroup-Report.pdf
  • Region C Senators presented the motions during the recent Region C Council call and there were very few questions and no controversy on this motion.
  • From a current Region Governor:
    • Here’s my main rationales pro:
      • We don’t have a ton of region motions most of the time anyway (besides $$$); our region meetings are primarily info gathering/sharing sessions. That doesn’t really require proportional representation, just someone willing to do their job. Or a reasonable amount of communication to get an alternate to show up.
      • Plus the section presidents are always invited too so it seems superfluous. A big recurring point over the past 18 months talks about reducing overlap and having roles that are a “meaningful volunteer opportunity”. 5 people doing the job of 1 is not value added.
      • Plus the section rep reports have become so easy, the divide and conquer methodology big sections use hardly seems necessary any more.
      • We’ve created plenty of other smaller region level roles (committees) opportunities (with smaller time commitments) through the years that there are other ways for people to get involved outside their section (# 1 phrase on every nomination form is that they want to get more involved outside their section.) For several years recently this kind of flexible volunteer roles was a big focus.
      • Finally, the region sub team really wanted to free up people to take on other roles in SWE as the governance transitions are defined and implemented. We need solid support in place and functioning well before we pull the plug on regions. This is step 1.
    • My con:
      • Having extra people around when we are best practice sharing or brainstorming is a benefit since it brings more variety of experiences to the table. (counter point: can achieve this with engaged region committee members and alternates.)
      • Fewer people in the official pipeline. (same counter point. plus who says you can’t have multiple alternates. plus we really need a motion to get rid of the laundry list of official qualification titles in the bylaws.)
    • Other effects:
      • I do know of at least one section who has 2 year terms for their section rep(s) so if this passes, they will need a special plan.

WE16 Senate Meeting Agenda

As a reminder all SWE members are welcome to attend the in-person Senate meetings, although no closed doors sessions are scheduled for this meeting, it may be necessary to call for a closed session depending on what information is presented to the Senate.

SWE Senate Meeting: 11:30 am – 4:00 pm in PCC Room 204A
(See the detailed agenda below)

Safe travels to all who are attending WE16 in Philadelphia.


#RegionBSenate    #SWESenateB    #SWEBee    #WE16

Pam Dingman, FY17 Special Senator

The fiscal year 2017 (FY17) Senate is pleased to announce Pamela (Pam) Dingman’s election as a special senator! We welcome Pam to our team and are looking forward to her support with the FY17 areas of focus.

Pam’s election was the first motion in front of the FY17 Senate as S-1701.

To learn more about the role of special senator and Pam; see the Society Senate Blog Post at http://senate.swe.org/blog/pam-dingman-fy17-special-senator

#RegionBSenate     #SWEBee      #SWESenateB


September Monthly Senate Call

The September Senate Monthly Meeting focused on a review of the proposed bylaws amendments that will be in front of the Senate for a vote at #WE16. The majority of these amendments (S1608 to S1617) will be those that failed to reach the required 30 affirmative votes during the FY16 electronic voting process since only 29 votes were submitted. In addition, there will be a few new amendments that will be published by the September 14th deadline.

Two new amendments were briefly introduced to us as they aim to provide clarity in response to discussions on S1608 and S1610 from FY15. Another amendment will be in regards to the makeup of the Region Councils which is previewed by Lisa Rimpf, Director of Regions, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJwob0N1ABw. Once the proposals are published, we will know additional details and the discussion will be opened in regards to these new proposals.

Here is our timeline for Senate communication and voting:

  • September 14th: Publication deadline for amendments for WE16 voting
  • October 8th and October 10th: Senate Monthly Call – Agenda to discuss any amendment and/or motion that will be on the agenda for voting at WE16
  • October 29th: Senate Meeting and vote at WE16

Complete details on the published motions and amendments can be found at http://senate.swe.org/amendments-and-motions.html

Please contact a Senator with your questions or comments, or leave a comment to this post.

#RegionBSenate     #SWESenateB     #SWEBee