SWE

GU's Society of Women Engineers provides a space for female identifying students to build community in the industry and work on projects. 

Providing mentorship opportunities and professional development, Gonzaga University’s chapter of Society of Women Engineers opens up a vital side of professional engineering and educational opportunities to women in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

While there are many different events that the club facilitates, there are three main focuses of the club, said Katrina Springer, vice president of GU Society of Women Engineers and senior civil engineering student.

“The first [focus] is community between members,” Springer said.

GU’s chapter of Society of Women Engineers has about 30 members. However, each monthly meeting is open to any person who might be interested in learning more about professional experiences and workshops as a female in the field of engineering.

In particular, many of GU’s chapter of Society of Women Engineers events help with professional development and job applications. 

However, another big part of club membership is working to support female youth at local community organizations. 

In fact, the volunteering that GU Society of Women Engineers complete is the second focus of the club.

“We do a lot of events throughout the year,” said Abigail Lennah Marquez, president of GU Society of Women Engineers and senior civil engineering student. “Normally each year we end up working with the local Girl Scouts for their science fairs.”

Some other projects that the club has helped with is working with the nonprofit organization, Days for Girls.

While working with them, members helped to make reusable feminine products for women in countries where they have more difficulty getting access to these vital supplies, Springer said.

This volunteering is so impactful that members have even continued working with Days for Girls after Society for Women Engineers’ events.

In addition to volunteering, the third focus of the club is on professional development.

By doing this, GU Society of Women Engineers helps to foster a professional understanding within its club membership, building up valuable skills in undergraduate students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

These events can range from job application workshops to information sessions with experienced faculty on campus. They are often held during the monthly meetings in Herak room 123.

“Last Wednesday we had our elevator pitch workshop and Karen Franks-Harding, [manager for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences], came and spoke to us about tips on the career fair,” Springer said.

More specifically, members of the club spoke about how to present themselves professionally and other essential pieces of information that is important to know before a career fair.

GU Society of Women engineers also provide impactful mentorship and mentee opportunities. By providing this, it allows for students in the engineering program to find much needed connection throughout the club, Marquez said.

Additionally, one of the main events of the year that GU Society of Women Engineers takes part in is bringing members to the organization’s conference.

While it is still uncertain as to whether or not the club will attend this year due to the coronavirus and possible GU funding, it is a premiere opportunity to get GU’s chapter exposed to the greater Society of Women Engineers community, Marquez said.

Such that, while the GU chapter of Society of Women Engineers is around 10 years old, the greater organization has been working to advocate for inclusion and change for women in engineering and technology for over 70 years.

Some events and programs that the organization of Society of Women Engineers offers is scholarships, youth programs and resources for greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the professional field of engineering.

This continued support for women in engineering that Society of Women Engineers exhibits is very important for GU and the school of engineering, Springer said.

“A lot of women in engineering end up leaving the industry after ten to fifteen years,” Marquez said. “Having the space to connect to other like-minded women is super important.”

Georgia Consola is a staff writer.