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COVID-19 Research

In June 2020, SWE surveyed its members to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting their college and career plans. Most survey respondents were U.S.-based.

In October 2020, a second survey was sent to SWE members in India to determine how the pandemic was affecting women engineers and engineering students in that country.

  • Read about the SWE COVID-19 research in the U.S. and download the report.
  • Read about the SWE COVID-19 research in India and download the report.


SWE 1993 Study of Engineers

In 1993, SWE released a report on a survey of a random sample of more than half a million American engineers who were members of one or more of 22 major professional or technical societies. This national survey of women and men engineers was groundbreaking in it scope and its focus on gender differences in engineering. The 1993 study of engineers report authors discovered that, in some respects, women in engineering begin their careers at parity with men, but inequities in pay, employment status, and career advancement appear over time.

Download the full report

Women in Engineering: Talent Pulse Report, 2019

In collaboration with People at Work, SWE conducted a survey of women engineers in the workforce to understand what they seek from employers. The findings from this survey of over 2,900 women engineers helps uncover areas of focus for employers who want to improve the employee experience for women in engineering and technology at their organization.

Download the full report

Next Generation Engineers? Examining the Pathways of Adolescent Females in SWENext

SWE has partnered with researchers from The University of Texas at Austin to examine the gender identity of SWENext members to understand their views on prevailing gender norms and roles and the influence of peers and adults on how these factors influence their development of an engineering identity and their decisions to declare an engineering major in college. This mixed-methods longitudinal study will follow a sample of young women in high school to understand their thoughts and experiences, and extend our knowledge on inequality in engineering.

SWE Gender Culture Study

Understanding why women are leaving the engineering profession will inform efforts to increase retention of early- and mid-career professionals, and Organizational culture is a root cause of engagement and attrition, as value gaps can lead to dissatisfaction in the workplace. In other words, what companies say they value is not in line with what engineers are experiencing in the workplace.

Given that female attrition is a top concern, SWE partnered with Beth Michaels, President of Primer Michaels and a leader in culture change, values alignment, and change leadership, to conduct a study to determine how male and female engineers believe that their personal values and desired company culture align with their current company culture. Over 3,200 engineers

completed an online survey (49% female, 51% male) in 2015, providing insight into the experiences of both male and female engineers and their workplace cultures.

Findings from the study were released in February 2016. The results can be used to equip senior leaders to lead corporate culture development to engage and retain their best people.

Download highlights from the Society of Women Engineers' National Gender Culture Study.

Find out more about the results of this study in the April 2016 All Together Blog.

Climate Control: Gender and Racial Bias in Engineering

Research studies indicate that almost 40% of female engineers leave the engineering workforce by midcareer. Implicit or unconscious bias can have a negative impact on the workplace climate, affecting decisions in hiring, promotions, and compensation for women and other underrepresented minorities in engineering, and keeping them from reaching senior-level and leadership positions.

In partnership with the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law, SWE conducted a study to understand engineers’ experiences with implicit bias in the workplace. Over 3,000 male and female professionals with at least two years of experience as engineers or engineering technicians participated. The results of the study suggest that workplace climate is tougher for women and people of color as compared with white men.

Check out SWE’s webinars and tools to help you address issues of gender and racial bias in the workplace:

  • Diversity & Inclusion Knowledge Cards: Available through the SWE Store
  • Webinar: Give Me the Data: Getting Engineers Talking about Unconscious Bias
  • Webinar: How to Navigate Successfully Through Workplaces Shaped by Subtle Bias

2017 White Paper: An Intervention Strategy to Re-engage Women Engineers in the Workforce

Without intervention strategies, the current demand for technical talent combined with the projected increase in the need for engineers will result in a significant shortage of skilled labor throughout the United States engineering industry. Increasing the persistence of women in engineering at all stages of their careers is imperative to solving this talent shortage.

While more women are graduating with four-year degrees than men, they are underrepresented in the engineering industry – especially within positions at the senior and executive levels. Women are also more likely than men to leave the engineering profession.

In envisioning an intervention strategy to re-engage female engineers who have left the workforce, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and iRelaunch created the STEM Re-entry Task Force.

Through interviews with all active Founding Members of the Task Force, SWE prepared a white paper that positions the specific need for re-entry programs within the context of each company while demonstrating the unique advantages received through participation in the program. These interviews also highlight the value proposition of the Task Force, provide key indicators of organizational readiness in starting a re-entry program, and emphasize best practices and lessons learned. The conclusion provides specific recommendations to the engineering and technology sector.

Visit the SWE STEM Re-entry Task Force Website to read the 2017 White Paper.

Women of Color in Early Career: A SWE/NSBE Collaborative Study

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) collaborated on a qualitative research study to understand the experiences of women of color in the early stage of their engineering career. Only 6 percent of engineering bachelor’s degrees are earned by women of color (African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American/Alaska Native), and many who earn their degrees commonly encounter challenges in the workplace associated with implicit bias – in hiring, compensation, and performance evaluations. SWE and NSBE sought to understand the challenges female engineers of color in early career face, the strategies they use to overcome those challenges, and the supports that professional engineering organizations provide that are most impactful.

  • Download the full report
  • Read the paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in June 2017 sharing preliminary findings.
  • Read the paper presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference in April 2018.

Diversifying STEM: Student Success and Community College Transfer in Engineering and Computer Science

Community college students are often excluded from conversations surrounding broadening participation in STEM, particularly in the fields of engineering and computer science (ECS). The Society of Women Engineers is conducting a phased research study of ECS transfer students to understand the success of women and minority students on this pathway towards a baccalaureate degree. The findings suggest that greater attention to this pathway could make a significant impact on our ability to diversify the engineering profession.

Phase II: Diversifying STEM: Increasing Women's Persistence on the Transfer Pathway in Engineering and Computer Science. The second phase of this research involved a mixed methods study (survey + interviews) to understand the challenges and barriers women in community college face when pursuing an ECS degree.

  • Download the full report
  • View the infographic
  • Read the paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in June 2020.

Phase I: Diversifying STEM: Student Success and Community College Transfer in Engineering and Computer Science in Texas. The first phase of this research entailed a quantitative analysis of 10 years of education data to understand the success rates of women on the transfer pathway in ECS.

In this podcast (Episode 30), Dr. Roberta Rincon, SWE’s Research Manager, talks about a new report on community college transfer students with FY18 SWE President Jonna Gerken.

  • Download the full report
  • Read the paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) CoNECD conference in April 2018.
  • Read the paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in June 2018.

Engineering Messaging to Tween Girls: A Review of the Literature

This report was developed for the National Science Foundation. The primary focus of the literature review was on available research on the effectiveness of messaging on increasing interest and awareness of engineering as a desirable profession, specifically among girls in the age range of 8-13 years old (“tweens”). The report includes a sample listing of websites, videos, programs, and research that are or have been used by girls of this age to increase their interest in STEM, particularly engineering.

Download the literature review report

An Examination of Bias in the Engineering Workplace in India

In partnership with the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law, SWE explored bias reported by engineers in India. Almost 700 engineers completed a customized online survey developed to identify the existence of bias patterns in the engineering workplace. The results suggest that both men and women engineers in India experience high levels of bias, with women more likely to face gender bias and men more likely to face bias based on the region in India that they are from.