Yale Society of Women Engineers Wins Top International Awards, Looks to Expand Efforts

The Yale University chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) was recently recognized with two major awards from the national SWE organization - the Silver Mission Award and a Best Practice Award in Communication.

Given by SWE, these awards represent top honors for collegiate chapters that excel in aligning with all components of SWE's mission: empowering women to achieve their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expanding the image of the engineering and technology professions as a positive force in improving the quality of life, and demonstrating the value of diversity and inclusion.

"We are deeply proud of this achievement as it represents the growth of the Yale SWE community in past years at Yale and the efforts of our board," said undergraduate SWE co-president, Sein Lee '24.

Yale SWE has shown tremendous growth and impact under the leadership of its joint undergraduate-graduate student board. With nearly 500 active graduate and undergraduate members, it is now one of the university's largest engineering organizations. The group has focused its efforts on providing professional development and career advancement opportunities for Yale engineers, including skills workshops, corporate recruiting partnerships with top engineering companies like Medtronic, Bloomberg, and Boston Scientific, and participation in national conferences. This year, the chapter sent 22 students to SWE's annual Women in Engineering Conference, where all Yale attendees were accepted for on-the-spot interviews, with more than 75% receiving job offers as a result.

On campus, the chapter fosters an active community through mentorship initiatives, social events, and collaborations with affinity groups like Women and Gender Minorities in Computer Science. The chapter also gives back to the local New Haven community through outreach programs that promote STEM education among K-12 students. SWE's "Powered by Air" curriculum helps high schoolers design mini wind turbines, while middle school workshops were provided lab tours and introduced to active engineering research at Yale, ranging from wearable sensors to spatial transcriptomics programming. This year, the undergraduate chapter is pursuing an international water accessibility project to aid communities in Kenya facing lack of water infrastructure.

While SWE is primarily focused on supporting women engineers, it recognizes the importance of diversity and the role of intersectional identities in the engineering profession. By advocating for DEI, Yale SWE aims to create a more inclusive environment welcoming individuals of all genders, backgrounds, and identities enriching the field of engineering with diverse perspectives and experiences. In 2023, the graduate section hosted a "HerStory" Conversations event, where members engaged in a dynamic conversation with a diverse panel of women about their experiences as women-of-color in academia and engineering.

Capturing the essence of this event, Lee reflected on its significance.

"From sharing their personal journeys in engineering to discussing unique challenges that women and people of color face in the engineering field, the HerStory conversations became a space for SWE members not only to reflect upon their own stories but also to critically examine avenues of supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives," she said.

To learn more about the Yale SWE chapters, visit the Undergraduate SWE website, subscribe to their weekly newsletter, or join Graduate SWE's YaleConnect group.