Engineering organization gives solidarity, support for UH women in STEM
The UH chapter of the Society of Women Engineers for more than 10 years has aimed to support women in the engineering industry and to uplift the next generation of STEM students.
“The engineering industry has always been male-dominated,” said SWE president Ngoc Nguyen. So back in the day, the wonderful ladies that founded SWE hoped to just empower women and to create a network of support to help out women in engineering.”
The organization has been around for more than 60 years and there are 365 active members in the UH chapter.
“There is no such thing as feeling alone when you are surrounded by hundreds of successful women and are supported by an even bigger network of thousands of successful women,” said chemical engineer sophomore Karla Gonzalez.
Although most members are women, men are welcome to join SWE since the group aims to work together to overcome the industry’s obstacles.
“As long as you find that SWE is beneficial for you in some way then you are welcome,” Nguyen said.
Students new to SWE can sign up to be mentored by the group’s older members about their engineering classes and how to be successful in their major.
“Engineering is very stressful, but being surrounded by people who understand is very stress relieving,” Gonzalez said. “Being able to talk to other engineering students about stress or homework really relieves stress because it reminds me that it is normal to feel the way that I do.”
SWE has four general meetings every semester as well as career fairs and professional development training. The fairs give students a chance to network with possible employers in the hopes of securing a post-graduation job.
“Engineering is very competitive, and getting help can be difficult,” Gonzalez said, “but being a part of a family-oriented organization makes asking and getting help easier.”
The group also hosts volunteer opportunities such as helping out the Houston Food Bank, attending science fairs at middle schools and more.
In the future, SWE plans on doing more cultural events since they’ve added a diversity and inclusion panel. Nguyen said their organization is a diverse group of people, and they intend to support all cultures, just as the group supports women.
“Everywhere that there is a school of engineering we need support for women like SWE,
Nguyen said. “And I am thankful that someone created SWE, so we have a good foundation and we can keep growing from it.”