October 19, 2020

 

UConn SWE Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice 2020-2021 Action Plan

 

As the world awakens and grows, we are too. We thank the many womxn in engineering, past and present, who shared their stories, vision, and ideas for who UConn SWE can and should be. We recognize the lack of diversity present in SWE and are taking steps to improve our organization and create a welcoming environment. The UConn Section of the Society of Women Engineers proposes to implement the following actions for the purpose of fostering a supportive environment for female engineering students of all races and backgrounds. 

 

As a group that values and strives to have both diversity and inclusion in our organization and community, it is essential that we actively execute our role at the University of Connecticut. 

 

For the greater community who identify as womxn in engineering: This past summer, the SWE Executive board created an anonymous form for individuals to share their experiences with our club including any concerns or ideas for creating a more inclusive environment. The link to the form is posted on our website and shared in SWEekly emails. The SWE E-Board plans to review the responses at the midpoint and end of the semester to reflect on past experiences and make improvements for the future. 

 

For the network of other engineering student organizations, particularly EDOC organizations: Uconn SWE aims to expand collaboration and communication with other organizations within the Engineering and Diversity Outreach Center (EDOC). These collaboration efforts aim to increase communication about events, plan joint meetings, and promote volunteering opportunities for other organization’s events. It is vital that SWE addresses intersectionality and inequality in STEM, and it is only right that we try to work with other marginalized groups. This is why we are working to restructure Multiply Your Options to include members from SHPE and NSBE involved in planning this outreach event. We feel that the diversity-focused or affinity-based societies should have equal participation in leading and volunteering this event in order to have role models for all girls at MYO. Having a multitude of different volunteers with different experiences, outlooks, and struggles working on such a project will show young kids that anyone can be an engineer. This increase in connectivity will hopefully allow us to better show our support for other marginalized groups in engineering. 

 

 

For our current SWE members: As an outlet for members to feel comfortable and confident in sharing their voice, the SWE E-board will have weekly office hours Monday 6:00 - 6:30 pm.  SWE also intends to implement faculty advisor office hours Tuesday 8:00 - 9:00 pm. These will serve as a time to chat with SWE’s board of faculty of advisors. 

 

Action implemented this semester: On October 7th 2020, SWE held a general body meeting focused on implicit bias. We watched informative videos explaining implicit bias in the education system and providing relevant examples of implicit bias in our everyday lives. Following the videos, everyone was asked to take the Harvard Racial Implicit Bias Test to begin our conversation on implicit bias. We then split into breakout rooms to have small group discussions about the accuracy of the test, reflect on our own life experiences, and how we can help to create inclusive environments at UConn. These group discussions were guided by questions and allowed each member to share her own thoughts and experiences. This meeting was a great first step to begin the conversation about race and discrimination in our society, as well as begin to address and recognize the lack of diversity in our SWE organization. 

 

In order to develop a more inclusive approach to professional development, SWE invited Dr. Alix Deymier to give her “How to Present Yourself” presentation on October 14th 2020 during a SWE general body meeting. In this presentation, Dr. Deymier shared advice drawn from her own experience as a woman in engineering. Rather than focusing on what professional attire to wear, Dr. Deymier offered tips about how to feel confident in yourself within corporate settings and make an authentic first impression. She redefined professionalism and gave examples of how we can communicate who we are to employers. Other engineering organizations were invited to join us for the presentation as well. 

 

In the future, SWE will be continuing to work on educating members about current and past events that affect diversity in the United States. 

 

November 18th, 2020: SWE has coordinated with the National Conference for Community and Justice in Windsor, CT to host a virtual workshop on White Privilege during a general body meeting. This discussion-based session will provide an opportunity for members to better understand the unearned and systemic privileges this identity holds in society along with how and why racism exists. 

 

Dates: Watching and discussing works including  Dear White People or 13th on Netflix. These videos will introduce people to new material that they may not have been aware of before and to give the opportunity to learn. Following any material presented, we hope to create an open space where everyone feels comfortable to engage more in the material through discussion. In doing so, we are going to try to ensure these events make a lasting impact on everyone and are not just a one-time meeting.

 

We are excited to invite engaging, diverse speakers, from scientists and engineers to policymakers, who focus on promoting inclusion in STEM. Our faculty advisors have great recommendations for speakers who would be able to bring these discussions to SWE meetings. We intend to create follow up activities to continue these thoughts and ideas in the future. We are planning to have these speakers for the Spring semester. 

 

In conclusion, it is our hope that our actions stated above will create an inclusive environment in which people of all races, ethnicities, experiences, and cultures feel welcome. We are grateful for all of the ideas and suggestions that have been made from people outside and within SWE. We are excited to implement these steps to make a more inclusive SWE at UConn.