The Society of Women Engineers, in collaboration with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #2040634) to support the creation of the Women of Color in Engineering Collaborative (WCEC). With this grant, SWE will begin to build the WCEC by focusing on professional associations whose memberships include women engineers of color. Over time, the WCEC will expand to include the higher education community’s alumni networks, industry partners, government entities, and other organizations that share our commitment to increasing the representation and equity of women engineers of color in the workforce.
This NSF INCLUDES planning grant is funded by NSF Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (NSF INCLUDES), a comprehensive national initiative to enhance U.S. leadership in discoveries and innovations by focusing on diversity, inclusion and broadening participation in STEM at scale. The goals of this planning grant are to: 1) establish the Women of Color in Engineering Collaborative (WCEC), a partnership network of professional engineering associations and STEM-based companies dedicated to addressing systemic barriers that prohibit equitable work environments for women engineers of color; 2) create a shared vision focused on dismantling systemic barriers that impede the retention and advancement of women engineers of color; and 3) develop a strategic plan to guide WCEC activities. Reaching parity in engineering cannot be accomplished by approaches that solely focus on the recruitment or “fixing” of underrepresented groups; rather, efforts that connect and energize people, cross divides, and drive systemic change toward equity are needed. To date, many NSF INCLUDES projects have focused on the recruitment and retention of students into STEM education programs, but the WCEC will focus on the often cited, yet understudied, challenge of retaining women in the engineering workforce. Through the WCEC, partner organizations will better leverage their resources to promote systemic change while working collectively to decrease the barriers that lead to the attrition of women engineers of color.