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May 2023  //  WCEC Newsletter

Published on
May 11, 2023

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:

  1. Improve pathways to internships, scholarships, and jobs in engineering
  2. Reduce microaggressions, racism, and sexism in the workplace
  3. Retain and amplify women of color in the workplace
  4. Increase network inclusivity and sponsorships for women of color
  5. 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: SASE


The Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) SASE is dedicated to the advancement of Asian heritage scientists and engineers in education and employment so that they can achieve their full career potential. In addition to professional development, SASE also encourages members to contribute to the enhancement of the communities in which they live. SASE’s mission is to prepare Asian heritage scientists and engineers for success in the global business world, celebrate diversity on campuses and in the workplace, and provide opportunities for members to make contributions to their local communities. SASE membership is open to men and women of all ethnic backgrounds.

Aimin Huang, the WCEC organizational representative for SASE, offers her thoughts on the importance of being part of this collaborative effort.

Why is the WCEC important?

As WCEC mission indicates, we work cooperatively to provide the resources that organizations need to create supportive, encouraging, and inclusive environments and extend opportunities to amplify for women of color in engineering.

What is one activity that your organization is doing that aligns with the mission of the WCEC?

SASE is an organization dedicated to advancing Asian Americans in STEM to achieve their full career potential. Asian Women in STEM are not underrepresented as a whole versus their total population in the US. However, there is the largest gap between representation at entry levels and representation at the leadership levels in American corporations among major ethnic groups. SASE has played a strong role in Asian Women leadership development through training/mentoring programs, and annual leadership conferences targeted to Asian Women leadership development needs. WCEC's efforts and commitments will drive Women of Color (WOC), including Asian women, to thrive in their career in the STEM area and promote opportunities for leadership development in a broader community.

What are the benefits of collaborating with other STEM organizations to recruit and retain diverse talent?

1. Create more opportunities

2. Gain experience from others

3. Broaden support base in a wider community

What do you see as the biggest challenge in retaining women of color in engineering/STEM?

There are different challenges for WOC in different ethnic groups and at different phases of their career lives. But we have one common goal, that is to let WOC in STEM thrive in their careers in both entry levels and leadership levels in American Companies.

WCEC Webinar Registration

Register for the WCEC Webinar on May 17th!

"We don't have to choose between motherhood and our careers; We can be both, mothers and career driven women.” - Michelle Tovar-Mora

In celebration of Mother’s Day this month, this webinar will focus on caregiving. 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. While many employers were forced to modify their policies to accommodate a remote workforce during the pandemic, a number of women in STEM are finding that some are reverting back and many have not yet addressed caregiving labor at work. This webinar will explore how WOC manage work-life integration and what employers and professional societies can do to support them. Register here.

We are pleased to announce our panelists for the WCEC webinar:

Felicia Guerrero Green

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

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.

Dayna Martínez, Ph.D.

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.

APAHM 2023: Remarkable Asian Pacific American Women in STEM

This is an excerpt from a blog post available on SWE’s AllTogether, in celebration of the Asian Pacific American women whose contributions helped transform our world and continue to inspire current and future generations.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is an opportunity to recognize the remarkable contributions and influence of women whose achievements in STEM have transformed lives across the world, yet are sorely lacking in acknowledgement in the news, history books and curricula.

A 2020 study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B analyzed the demographics of scientists featured in seven commonly used introductory biology textbooks in U.S. classrooms and found that fewer than 7% of the scientists featured in textbooks were scientists of color, fewer than 3% of scientists featured were Asian, and 0% were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. Over 90% of the scientists highlighted across all seven biology textbooks were white, and 86% male.

The SWE Asian Connection Affinity Group invites you to read on about a few of these HIDDEN HEROES, TRAILBLAZERS, and BOUNDARY BREAKERS of American history!

Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal

Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal, virologist (1946 – 2020)

This Chinese American virologist was a towering figure in the fight against AIDS and also helped lay the groundwork for the formulation of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to fight COVID-19.

This Chinese American virologist was a towering figure in the fight against AIDS and also helped lay the groundwork for the formulation of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to fight COVID-19.

She was the first scientist to clone HIV and determine the function of its genes, unpacking the virus piece by piece, probing its genes and proteins until she had unlocked its genetic code and understood how it evaded the body’s immune system. Her work was a major step in proving that HIV is the cause of AIDS (a disease that was the leading cause of death in 1993 of those 25-44 years old) and enabled the advancement in antiretroviral drugs and HIV antibody tests that have saved countless lives making AIDS no longer a death sentence.

Though she was a giant in the fight against HIV/AIDS, there is no mention of her work in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services timeline that chronicles the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic from the first reported cases in 1981 to the present. She was also left out of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine that was awarded for the breakthroughs in the fight against AIDS. Among her accolades are membership in the National Academy of Medicine (1994) and in the Academia Sinica in Taiwan (1994); honors as one of the top 50 female scientists by Discover Magazine (2002) and #32 of the “Top 100 Living Geniuses” in a Daily Telegraph listing (2007); and induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame (2019).

Maryam Mirzakhani, PhD

Maryam Mirzakhani, PhD, mathematician

(1977 – 2017)

Maryam Mirzhakhani was awarded the prestigious Fields Medal in 2014. As the first woman to do so, the world was captivated.

Mirzakhani was a professor at Stanford University and a highly original mathematician who made a host of striking contributions to geometry and dynamical systems. Her work bridges several mathematical disciplines—including hyperbolic geometry, complex analysis, topology, and dynamics—and, in return, deeply influenced them all.

“When I woke up on July 15 and learned that Maryam Mirzakhani had died, I felt as though I had been punched in the gut. Maryam was an extraordinarily talented and accomplished young mathematician who was thrust into the limelight when she received the Fields Medal in 2014. After breaking the glass ceiling as the first female Medalist, she accepted with grace her role as a symbol for women’s achievement. An Iranian American, she served also as a reminder of the international character of the mathematical enterprise. Maryam Mirzakhani left us in the prime of her professional life. Her passing is a great loss to the mathematical community.” — Kenneth A. Ribet, American Mathematical Society President.

A documentary on her career, “Secrets of the Surface: The Mathematical Vision of Maryam Mirzakhani,” is viewable on PBS.

Read about more amazing Asian Pacific American women in STEM in the full blog post, available here.

Member Events Icon

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!

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.

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.

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.

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