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June 2024 // WCEC Newsletter

Published on
June 27, 2024

In this month's issue:

The WCEC is excited to present Critical Accessibility Theory: Harnessing Strengths as Women of Color in Engineering, an engaging lecture-style session with Crystal Preston-Watson, in recognition of Disability Pride Month and Disability Pride Day. Preston-Watson is the Senior Digital Accessibility Lead at Salesforce and has a wealth of knowledge and is an experienced engineer navigating the tech workplace as a Woman of Color with a disability.

Attendees will leave this webinar with insights and practical strategies for navigating barriers within the field as Women of Color in Engineering with disabilities.  They will learn about the foundational role of accessibility and equity in the workplace, as well as gain a deeper understanding of means by which to leverage accessibility to close gaps in their workplaces and open pathways to internships, scholarships, jobs, and other opportunities.

The interactive session will provide a unique opportunity for participants to engage with Crystal directly, equipping them with specific and effective tools for self-advocacy, changemaking, and creating more inclusive and accessible workplaces for all.

About Crystal Preston-Watson:

Crystal Preston-Watson is the Senior Digital Accessibility Analyst at Salesforce. Her extensive experience in front-end and quality engineering has been channeled towards making digital platforms and products accessible for disabled users. Crystal's collaborations with numerous organizations have been instrumental in integrating accessibility best practices and advocating for accessibility standards and legislation. Her contributions to the tech community include speaking engagements, workshops, and advocacy for improved representation and inclusivity within the industry.

See more of Crystal’s work on YouTube or read her articles on Accessibility Savvy..

Webinar Information:

Date: July 26th, 2024

Time: 4pm EST, 1pm PST


June's Featured Literature

Hot in Here: Heat Waves, Climate Change, and Disability

by Crystal Preston-Watson, published on Accessibility Savvy  on June 19, 2024

As global temperatures rise to never-before-seen extremes and more people begin to feel the impact of climate change on their personal health, disability advocacy expert Crystal Preston-Watson shines light on a group that is especially vulnerable to heat-related health complications: persons with disabilities. Hot in Here: Heat Waves, Climate Change, and Disability names the heightened risks and challenges that individuals with disabilities face in the midst of increasing temperatures and brutal summers, how economic disparities exacerbate these issues and fatal outcomes, and strategies that can mitigate the effects of climate change on our bodies.

Access to cooling environments is a critical concern, as many disabled individuals face barriers in reaching air-conditioned spaces due to accessibility issues in public cooling centers or limitations in home air conditioning. Emergency preparedness often overlooks the needs of disabled individuals, from inaccessible communication methods to challenges in evacuation procedures during heat emergencies.

The broader context of climate change intensifies these issues, particularly due to economic disparities and inadequate infrastructure. Lower incomes and socioeconomic disadvantages limit the ability to afford cooling solutions or access better housing insulated against heat. Furthermore, the mental health impacts of extreme heat exacerbate existing conditions, leading to increased social isolation and stress.

To address these challenges, the article advocates for inclusive emergency planning that considers the needs of disabled individuals from the outset. It calls for investments in accessible infrastructure, such as adaptable homes and reliable public transport, along with community support systems that provide essential aid during heat waves. Advocacy efforts are crucial to ensure that policies and responses to climate change are equitable and inclusive, safeguarding the welfare of all individuals, regardless of their abilities.

Preston-Watson stresses the importance and urgency of integrating these inclusive approaches to protecting people from the disproportionate effects of climate change. By prioritizing the specific needs of people with disabilities in planning and infrastructure and development, society can better protect and care for us all during the increasingly frequent and severe effects of extreme weather.

Updates from the WCEC

(WCEC Staff, from left to right: Kenashia Thompson, Sohn Cook, Roberta Rincon, Ph.D., Dru James, Lola Rodríguez Vargas, Ph.D.)

Earlier this month, part of the Women of Color in Engineering Collaborative leadership team attended the Equity in STEM ARC Network’s ADVANCE Equity in STEM Community Convening in Baltimore, MD. While there, the team introduced other STEM equity professionals to the WCEC mission and vision through networking, tabling, and a dedicated session to present our programs.

The month of June also held the opportunity for the Women of Color in Engineering Collaborative staff to meet in person at the Society of Women Engineers’ annual summer all-hands meeting. During their stay at the SWE Headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, the WCEC team connected over our shared passion for the work, celebrated our wins so far, participated in a community service project with SWE team members, and seized the opportunity to set goals for ourselves and the WCEC mission.

Member Events Icon

Upcoming WCEC Member Events

The WCEC shares 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!

AISES National Conference

San Antonio, Texas, October 3 - 5, 2024

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.

**WCEC staff will be presenting at AISES! We look forward to connecting with you.

Learn more & register

SWE Conference

Chicago, IL, October 24-26, 2024

WE24 is poised to be the premier global conference for women in the fields of engineering and technology. It aims to unite a wide array of female engineers, those aspiring to join the field, and supporters from around the world. The conference will feature sessions designed to inspire, showcase technological innovations, and provide valuable networking opportunities. Attendees can also expect insightful panel discussions led by leading experts, focusing on the latest trends and effective practices in the industry.

**WCEC staff will be presenting at WE24! We look forward to connecting with you.

Learn more & register

SHPE National Convention

Anaheim, CA, October 30-November 3, 2024

Held annually in a different city, the convention brings together over 9,000 of the best and brightest Hispanic scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to celebrate our Familia through our STAR Awards, compete for top prize money showcasing their skills, and enhance skills and networking through our many workshop sessions and engagement events. For corporate sponsors, it is a beacon of top STEM talent. For SHPE members, it is a life-changing opportunity to build a dream career.

Learn more & register


Phoenix, AZ, October 31 - November 2

The largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity conference in the country, SACNAS' premier conference is a gathering which serves to equip, empower, and energize participants for their academic and professional paths in STEM. Over the course of the event, college-level through professional attendees are immersed in cutting-edge STEM research, professional development sessions, motivational keynote speakers, and the Graduate School & Career Expo Hall, as well as multicultural celebrations and traditions, and an inclusive and welcoming community of peers, mentors, and role models. Simply put, the NDiSTEM Conference is a broadly inclusive space where you are encouraged and empowered to bring your whole self to STEM.

Learn more & register

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. 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 major challenges facing women of color (WOC) in the engineering workplace.

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.

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