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.
Barrier #5: Raise Openness and Reduce Backlash to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Practices
Recognizing and responding effectively to resistance to DEI efforts is critical if we are to achieve the systemic changes required to transform the engineering culture. Often viewed as a meritocratic occupation, it is important to bring awareness to the barriers that are creating an unwelcoming environment for WOC if the barriers are to be dismantled.
Strategies to address this barrier include:
Counter backlash with data that highlight disparities and refutes stereotypes. Acknowledging the problems that exist is the first step to addressing them.
Build strong allyship and advocacy by creating a toolkit for Allyship and Advocacy. The WCEC will utilize existing resources to create a toolkit to support those interested in serving as allies and advocates for WOC in engineering. Where resources are missing, the WCEC will develop them.
Capture changes in perception through data collection and reporting. We only know if our efforts are working if we continue to monitor changes in the engineering environment. By capturing changes in attitudes towards DEI efforts, the WCEC can identify what resources are most effective and share those resources broadly.
Did you miss the WCEC webinar last month? You’re in luck! A recording of our first webinar for 2023 is available on the WCEC website.
Our panelists explored the role that professional societies serve in supporting, maintaining, sustaining, and enhancing workplace retention efforts. Recent studies of women in engineering have highlighted real-world experiences of implicit bias and discrimination, including issues of retention and promotion in the workplace. These challenges are often multiplied for WOC in Engineering, who are typically held to stricter standards of competence than their counterparts.
Listen to the recording to hear from our fabulous panelists:
Linda Calvin is the Chief Impact Officer for Reboot Representation, an organization dedicated to doubling the number of Black, Latina and Native American (BLNA) women graduating with computing degrees by 2025. A 20-year veteran of the private IT sector, Linda collaborates with Reboot tech coalition partners to help create cultures that attract and retain BLNA women in tech. As a woman of color in tech, she is committed to diversity and being visible to youth and those who aspire to tech careers in the community.
Brooke Coley is Founding Executive Director of the Center for RARE JUSTICE, Assistant Professor in Engineering at the Polytechnic School of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and Principal Investigator of the Shifting Perceptions, Attitudes and Cultures in Engineering (SPACE) Lab at Arizona State University. Brooke brings expertise in racial equity, justice, and sociotechnical innovation in the context of engineering. She recently received the 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Award from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering for her commitment to creating and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.
Rachel Yellowhair is a member of the Navajo Nation and has been involved with AISES for more than 25 years. Rachel is the West Region Site Services Manager at Raytheon, where she leads a team to support about 13,500 employees across several business locations in the west region of the United States. A highly motivated Digital Technology professional with over 20 years of experience in technical, project management and leadership areas, Rachel received AISES’ Blazing Flame Award in 2022.
Bianca McCartt currently serves as the Talent Pipeline Development Leader for the Engineering Division, where she is responsible for the strategy to engage with external engineering associations for GE Aviation. Bianca has a passion for the technical career growth of engineers, inclusion and mentoring, and a drive to implement process improvements. She has served as a member of the WCEC leadership team since 2021.
WCEC Member Highlight: LatinaVIDA
The mission of LatinaVIDA is to empower and equip first generation professionals of color to rise to the top in their careers through culturally relevant leadership programs.
These are the key traits of successful professionals of color that are shaping our nation today is VIDA: Visibility, Identity, Determination and Action! Being visible in the workplace by demonstrating authenticity, knowledge and leadership. A strong sense of one's identity as a professional of color — whether as an immigrant, first generation or someone with a diverse mix of cultures. A remarkable determination not to be discouraged by the obstacles that come with being a person of color and to keep moving forward with a clear personal vision. And, a strong willingness to take action, step up and take charge of all the various facets of one's career and life. These are the remarkable qualities that empower professionals of color to lead in any organization, serve communities and live a fulfilling life—VIDA!
We asked Tammy Ramos, JD, Executive Director of LatinaVIDA, why LatinaVIDA - a founding partner of the WCEC - felt it was important to be part of this collaborative effort.
Why is the WCEC important?
WCEC is important because the population is becoming more diverse and women of color are becoming more educated. WOC add enormous value to organizations by bringing in diversity of thought, varied lived experiences and a more multi-faceted lens to all they do.
What is one activity that your organization is doing that aligns with the mission of the WCEC?
LatinaVIDA's mission is to empower and equip the next generation of professionals of color to rise to the top in their careers through our culturally relevant leadership and career development programs.
How can engineering organizations better support WOC?
Provide them with mentoring, sponsoring, coaching and career development. Many women of color in STEM specifically may be first in their families to have a professional career. They need resources, tools, guidance and support in navigating their careers with success and confidence.
What do you see as the biggest challenge in retaining WOC in engineering/STEM?
The biggest challenge is that there are generational differences and mindsets in the workplace. Baby-boomers and Gen Xers need to understand what women of color in the Millennial and Gen Z generations expect and need from their employers. We cannot keep doing business as usual. It is crucial to support their career paths by educating and equipping their leaders to understand how to lead inclusively, become aware of cultural nuances and create company cultures that value authenticity.
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!
WEPAN Women Engineers Webinar Series: Women in Transportation
Virtual, March 26, 2023 - Noon ET
The WEPAN Women Engineers Webinar Series continues its tradition of highlighting women engineers in different disciplines and across sectors. This webinar features three Women in Transportation: Jessica Rich with the Federal Highway Administration, Erin Slayton with HDR, and Natalie Lockhart with Arcadis. The webinar is open, and we encourage engineering students and professionals, WIE/WISE/MEP program staff, and advocates for women engineers to join us! Register here.
TMS Annual Meeting and Exhibition
San Diego, CA, March 19-23, 2023
The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS) Annual Meeting & Exhibition brings together more than 4,000 engineers, scientists, business leaders, and other professionals in the minerals, metals, and materials fields for a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary exchange of technical knowledge. Learn more & register.
Kansas City, MO, March 22-26, 2023
The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) 49th Annual Convention is a four-day constitutional event with over 10,000 attendees, 300+ company career fair and a 3,000+ General Session. During the Annual Convention, the Society conducts organizational business, elects national and regional leaders, holds competitions and provides professional and personal development, networking and celebratory activities. Learn more & register.
WE Local Conferences
Seattle, WA, March 31-April 1, 2023
WE Local conferences take place around the world and are organized by the Society of Women Engineers to bring together participants in all stages of their collegiate and professional journey. The conferences create space for engineers and partners to connect through professional development sessions, inspirational speakers, networking opportunities, and more. Learn more & register.
Seattle, WA April 17-20, 2023
SAMPE 2023 Conference and Exhibition is exclusively dedicated to advanced materials and processes. Produced by the North America Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE), this event brings together leading companies, engineers, scientists, and professionals from throughout the advanced materials and processes industry. Learn more & register
AISES Leadership Summit
Tulsa, OK, April 30-May 2, 2023
Through workshops and sessions — along with built-in time to relax, socialize, and have fun — the AISES Leadership Summit delivers on strategies that enable Indigenous STEM professionals, students, and leaders to learn from each other, network, and find support. Learn more & register.
2023 ADVANCE Equity in STEM Community Convening
Durham, NC, June 5-7, 2023
Since 2019, the NSF-Funded ADVANCE Equity in STEM Community Convening has served as the convening for NSF ADVANCE grantees in a format that facilitates engagement with change agents within and beyond the NSF ADVANCE community. The ADVANCE EiSCC brings together a variety of change makers from higher education, professional societies, industry, government, and non-profits in an engaged exchange of knowledge, resources, and support to drive systemic change in STEM. Learn more & register.
ACE23 National Conference
Toronto, ONT, June 11-14, 2023
ACE, where the water community comes together to learn, connect, and be inspired to solve global water challenges. Be a part of the water revolution that addresses critical issues about the world’s most important resource. Regardless of where you are in your career, there is something for everyone at ACE. Learn more & register.
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
Call for Participation
Consider presenting at an upcoming event! Member organizations offer the following opportunities for participation.
2023 WE23 Conference
Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA, October 26-28, 2023
Proposal Deadline: March 14, 2023
The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) will host a hybrid WE23 on October 26-28. More than 200 sessions will be selected for the world’s largest conference for engineers and technologists.. The in-person conference will take place in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more
2023 ADVANCE Equity in STEM Community Convening
Durham, NC, June 5-7, 2023
Proposal Deadline: March 15, 2023
At the 2023 ADVANCE Equity in STEM Community Convening, researchers, practitioners, and change agents have an opportunity to share new research findings and exchange resources; brainstorm strategies; collaborate in novel ways; and demonstrate effective programs and interventions for greater collective impact. Learn more
Black Girls Do Science Spring 2023 Virtual Speaker Series
Virtual, Spring 2023
Black Girls Do Science is hosting a speakers series, bringing together kids from diverse backgrounds to have a dialogue and explore all things STEAM. As a speaker, you will share your journey in STEAM and inspire students to pursue STEAM as a potential career. There are speaking slots available for March 27th-April 7th, 2023 and are in the Central Time Zone. Sign up for presentation slots here.
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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.