What is the Women of Color in Engineering Collaborative?
The Women of Color in Engineering Collaborative (WCEC) was created in 2021 as a partnership network of professional engineering societies and STEM-based companies. The WCEC is working to address systemic barriers that prohibit equitable work environments for women engineers of color.
Since its inception, the WCEC has grown to 29 organizations, created a shared vision and mission, and developed a strategic plan that will guide our efforts over the next few years. In our inaugural newsletter, we want to thank you for your interest and support of our work. We hope that you will engage with the WCEC as we begin implementing the strategies aimed at tackling the following five major challenges facing women of color (WOC) in the engineering workplace:
Improve pathways to internships, scholarships, and jobs in engineering
Reduce microaggressions, racism, and sexism in the workplace
Retain and amplify women of color in the workplace
Increase network inclusivity and sponsorships for women of color
Raise openness and reduce backlash to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices
In our upcoming newsletters, we will explore each of these challenges and highlight the goals and strategies under each.
Want to Get Involved?
Are you interested in having your organization become a member of the WCEC? Read our membership guidelines and fill out an application. Learn more.
While we don’t offer membership to individuals, we do want to grow the WCEC community! Soon we will begin collecting profiles of amazing WOC engineers for our Inspiring Leaders database. We are also collecting resources from our member organizations to place in our online Resource Center. We will be using this newsletter to get the word out as these activities get underway. Please share the WCEC with your network and invite others to sign up for our newsletter through the Contact Us form on the WCEC website.
WCEC Member Highlight: SWE
For more than seven decades, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has given women engineers a unique place and voice within the engineering industry. SWE is centered around a passion for our members’ success and continues to evolve with the challenges and opportunities reflected in today’s exciting engineering and technology specialties.
Our mission is to empower women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders; expand the image of the engineering and technology professions as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity and inclusion.
Roberta Rincon, the WCEC organizational representative for SWE and a member of the WCEC Leadership Team, offers her thoughts on the importance of this collaborative effort.
Why is the WCEC important?
The WCEC focuses on finding ways to better support women of color in the engineering workforce. Women of color represent less than 6 percent of all working engineers. Research highlights the need to consider the connections between race, class, and gender to adequately address the unique challenges that women of color face when trying to advance in their careers. These challenges often result in their decision to leave the engineering workforce. Recognizing that industry, academic, government, and nonprofit organizations offer a variety of programs and services for women and people of color, the WCEC was formed to share existing resources, identify effective practices, and close resource gaps.
What is one activity that your organization is doing that aligns with the mission of the WCEC?
SWE’s membership has been growing year over year, but by disaggregating our membership data we have found that we are missing opportunities to engage with specific populations. For example, we have found that our engagement with women attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is not as robust as we would like. SWE offers joint memberships with AISES, NSBE, and SHPE, so we are looking into ways to build on these relationships to increase engagement with women at HBCUs, Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs). This effort aligns with the WCEC’s mission by strengthening our partnerships with other diversity-serving organizations, but also by introducing more women attending these institutions to the career opportunities offered by our corporate partners and through our conferences and career fairs.
What are the benefits of collaborating with other STEM organizations to recruit and retain diverse talent?
The organizations participating in the WCEC have different missions, and more often than not our missions do not specifically focus on women engineers of color. Because of this, none of us are 100 percent focused on addressing the needs of this subpopulation. However, we all recognize that we cannot truly diversify the engineering profession if we continue to offer piecemeal solutions. Through the WCEC, we can create a strong network of support to increase the retention and advancement of women engineers of color and make real progress towards our diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging goals.
Celebrating Juneteenth: A NASA Documentary Showcasing the Stories of Black Astronauts
Juneteenth is a reminder that “we’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go.” - Victor J. Glover, Jr., NASA astronaut
In recognition of Juneteenth, a day that honors the sacrifices and struggles of those who have fought and continue to fight for equality, justice, and freedom for all, we share a NASA documentary from 2022 of a conversation between seven current and former Black astronauts. The seven astronauts talk about their journeys and motivations with the moderator, NASA Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche, an engineer and the first Black woman to lead a NASA center.
From the video description: “The Color of Space captures the personal stories of seven current and former Black astronauts, each selected to become part of NASA's astronaut corps and train for space missions. Current NASA astronauts Stephanie Wilson, Victor Glover, Jeanette Epps, as well as retired astronauts Leland Melvin, Bernard Harris, Robert Curbeam, and Bobby Satcher, speak about their journeys and their motivations in a panel hosted by NASA Johnson Space Center Director Vanessa Wyche, the first Black woman to lead a NASA center. They took the step to achieve the impossible, overcoming barriers and making space for others to follow.”
View Recording of May 17th WCEC Webinar
"We don't have to choose between motherhood and our careers; We can be both, mothers and career driven women.” - Michelle Tovar-Mora
Weren’t able to listen to the WCEC webinar last month? You can find recordings of our webinars, including the May 17th webinar, on the WCEC website.
During the May webinar, panelists discussed balancing work and caregiving responsibilities. Both at work and at home, research shows that women overwhelmingly perform more of the unpaid caregiving labor than their counterparts. From childcare, elder care, and household management to teaching, mentoring, service, and emotional labor, during the COVID-19 pandemic, these gender inequities were magnified. Studies highlight the uneven care burden women, particularly WOC, carry and the penalties that they often experience at work involving hiring, promotion, and pay decisions. Our panelists discussed how they manage work-life integration and what employers and professional societies can do to better support WOC in balancing their responsibilities.
Listen to the recording to hear from our fabulous panelists:
Felicia Guerrero Green is a mechanical engineer, born and raised in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She attended college for an undergraduate and graduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. She is currently working in Phoenix, Arizona as a Mechanical Engineer in the Actuation Systems division of Collins Aerospace. She is also currently a PhD candidate at Grand Canyon University where she is pursuing a PhD in Psychology with an emphasis on human performance. She was motivated to study this topic after hearing of the many departure points in women engineers’ careers, as well as experiencing one herself. She volunteers as a group co-owner of the group Engineering Working Moms – a support network for engineering women who navigating careers and parenthood. Additionally, she is a co-lead for the Society of Women Engineers’ Mid-Career Affinity Group – a newly formed support group within the society of SWE. In her free time, she mountain bikes and explores Arizona with her three kids (9, 6, & 3) and wonderful husband - all who keep her learning new things all the time!
Michelle Tovar-Mora is a first-generation Latina college graduate currently working in the Energy Sector. She earned a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering from California State University Los Angeles (CSULA) and attributes her success to the involvement of organization such the Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) where she was able to not only connect with more females and Latinos in the same position as herself but, also developed a strong support system. She is passionate about her career and hopes to inspire more women and Latinos to join the STEM field by sharing her personal experience. In addition, she wants to motivate more women to not be scared of building a family while building their career.
Moderator: Dayna Martínez, Ph.D.
Dayna currently serves as a Director for the Research & Innovation office at SHPE. In this role, she oversees the Equipando Padres program, Noche de Ciencias, as well as different aspects of research and data analysis. An industrial engineer by training, before joining SHPE, Dayna was a faculty member in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at Northeastern University in Boston, MA after working at theirHealthcare Systems Engineering Institute (HSyE) as a post-doctoral research fellow. Native from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Dayna graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (¡Colegio!) and then she completed a master’s and PhD degree inIndustrial Engineering from the University of South Florida in Tampa. She currently lives with her husband Andrés, their two sons David and Sebastián, and their miniature schnauzer, Lucca, in Winter Garden, Florida.
Upcoming WCEC Member Events
The WCEC shares the numerous professional activities offered by our member organizations. Member organizations are committed to creating a supportive, encouraging, and inclusive environment for WOC in engineering. Find out more about their events and register to attend!
ASEE National Conference
Baltimore, MD, June 25-28, 2023
The premier event of its kind, the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition fosters an exchange of ideas; enhances teaching methods and curricula; explores how to manage engagement, retention, and return on learning experiences; and provides unparalleled networking opportunities for engineering and engineering technology education stakeholders, including deans, department chairs, faculty members, researchers, and industry and government professionals. Learn more & register
SASE 2023 National Convention
Atlanta, GA, October 11-14, 2023
The Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) is one of the fastest growing Asian and Pacific Islander (API) organizations in the country. The SASE National Conference and STEM Career Fair is the largest conference and career fair for Asian Americans in the United States with over 3,000 attendees. Learn more.
International Materials, Applications, and Technologies Conference (IMAT 2023)
Detroit, MI, October 16-19, 2023
IMAT brings together materials experts and organizations for industry collaborators across all market sectors. It is co-located with Heat Treat Conference and Expo and Motion + Power Technology Expo, offering over 500 technical presentations, keynotes, and panel discussions. Learn more & register.
2023 AISES National Conference
Spokane, WA, October 19-21, 2023
The Annual AISES National Conference is a unique, three-day event focusing on educational, professional, and workforce development for Indigenous peoples of North America and the Pacific Islands in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) studies and careers. Learn more & register.
WE23: SWE Annual Conference
Los Angeles, CA, October 26-28, 2023
WE23 is the Society of Women Engineers’ premier event for women in engineering and technology. The three-day event provides an opportunity to network with collegians and professionals, gain insight into career paths, and explore the latest advances. Attendees will have access to distinguished speakers from various industries leading conversations on innovation and development, as well as interactive workshops focusing on leadership skills and other engineering and technology topics. Learn more & register.
2023 SACNAS NDISTEM Conference
Portland, OR, October 26-28, 2023
SACNAS is an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanics and Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM. At the 2023 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM (NDiSTEM) Conference, our community can learn and grow together through two types of sessions: STEM Symposia and Professional Development. Learn more & register.
CAMX: The Composites and Advanced Materials Expo
Atlanta, GA, October 30-November 2, 2023
CAMX brings all aspects of the world's composites and advanced materials communities together for one all-encompassing event. CAMX is where the industry meets to do business and discover the latest in products, solutions, and advanced industry technology. Learn more & register.
2023 SHPE National Convention
Salt Lake City, UT, November 1-5, 2023
SHPE National Convention serves as the country’s largest, annual gathering of Hispanic STEM students and professionals. Registration will open on August 2nd. Make sure to register early because this event sold out in 2022! Learn more & register.
ASCE INSPIRE 2023
Arlington, VA, November 16-18, 2023
As our world expands through innovation, technology, and in population, civil engineers have a renewed call to action: Ensure that the built environment is safe, dynamically resilient, sustainable, future-ready, and adaptive to changing climate conditions. Join conversations on the most pressing issues in infrastructure and BE INSPIRED! Learn more & register.
Subscribe to newsletter
Subscribe to receive the latest updates and new to your inbox every month.
Funded by the National Science Foundation Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science Program, Awards 2040634 and 2310386, the Women of Color in Engineering Collaborative (WCEC) is a partnership network of professional engineering associations, STEM-based companies, and higher education institutions dedicated to addressing systemic barriers that prohibit equitable work environments for women engineers of color. 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.