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Public Policy Activities


SWE Public Policy Activities

Educational Efforts 
September 15th: The National Science Board (NSB) released a new report, “Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators: Identifying and Developing Our Nation’s Human Capital,” which was the culmination of the NSB STEM Innovators project, a two-year effort that explored “ways that the country can foster the development of our next generation of leading STEM professionals, entrepreneurs, and inventors.” Staff attended the report’s release at the National Press Club. 
September 16th: As part of his “Educate to Innovate” campaign to raise American students to the top of the pack in science and mathematics achievement over the next decade, President Obama announced the launch of “Change the Equation,” a CEO-led effort to dramatically improve education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Earlier that day, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) also released its long-awaited STEM study entitled, “Prepare and Inspire: K-12 Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) for America’s Future.” 
September 23rd: The National Academy and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine released a follow-up to the Rising Above the Gathering Storm report entitled, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5,” which examines the progress or lack thereof being made by the United States in confronting challenges in global competitiveness. Staff was in attendance for the report’s release. 
October 18, 2010: President Obama hosted the first-ever White House science fair, celebrating the winners of a broad range of STEM competitions, including FIRST Robotics, EWeek Future City, and the JETS TEAMS competition. Staff represented SWE at this event. 

March 24-25, 2010: SWE organized the 2010 "Diversity and Inclusion Fuels Innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)" Capitol Hill Day. While SWE has co-sponsored other Capitol Hill Days in previous years, this was the first one in which SWE took the lead in organizing, and the first to be solely focused on issues related to diversity and STEM.  Eleven SWE leaders were in attendance at the Capitol Hill Day, and nine of those members participated in Congressional visits.


The 2010 Capitol Hill Day events consisted of training for participants and a Capitol Hill reception on March 24, followed by a Capitol Hill breakfast and Congressional visits on March 25. Speakers at the training who provided attendees with insight into current policy issues related to diversity in STEM included Jacqueline Michaels from the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights; Dr. Kelly Mack, Program Director for ADVANCE at the National Science Foundation, and Dr. Arundhati Jayarao, Congressional Fellow in Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) office. 


During the March 24 reception, SWE presented its 2010 President’s Award to Ms. Brenda Manuel, NASA Associate Administrator of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to promoting diversity and inclusion in the STEM fields through her (and her team’s) recent work related to Title IX and STEM. NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. was in attendance during the reception, and helped SWE present the award.  SWE also presented a SWE Certificate of Appreciation to Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), who will be retiring after this term of office and who has been a longtime champion of the need to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in America’s schools. In addition to Representatives Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Representatives Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Paul Tonko (D-NY) also provided remarks at the event. 


On March 25, Dr. John Veysey, Senior Legislative Assistant from Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)’s office, served as the breakfast keynote speaker. A Ph.D. by training, Dr. Veysey provided attendees with some tips on how to talk to Congressional staff, and more insight into the workings of a Congressional office. After the breakfast, Congressional visits were scheduled for attendees with their Congressional representatives.



The following 17 STEM and diversity organizations co-sponsored the event: American Association of University Women; AIChE- Women’s Initiative Committee, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, American Nuclear Society, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society for Engineering Education, ASME Center for Leadership and Diversity, Association for Women in Science, IEEE-USA, MentorNet, National Center for Women and Information Technology, National GEM Consortium, National Society of Professional Engineers, SAE International, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and Women in Engineering Pro-Active Network.


For more information, please visit the SWE Public Policy Community.


January 12, 2010: SWE convened a roundtable to discuss "Practical Approaches to Attracting and Retaining Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fields." Over 40 representatives from 28 engineering and engineering-related organizations attended the roundtable. SWE President Nora Lin served as the roundtable’s moderator. Representatives from associations of science and engineering professionals, Congressional offices, federal agencies, industry and academia were in attendance. Topics of discussion included the current statistics of women in STEM in higher education; examples of what universities and professional societies are doing to address the underrepresentation of women and underrepresented groups in academia and the STEM workforce, including the NSF ADVANCE program; and an overview of the recent NASA Title IX reviews of STEM departments. For more information, please visit the SWE Public Policy Community.
November 23, 2009: President Obama announced his new "Educate to Innovate" campaign to improve STEM education in America’s schools in late 2009. The announcement was made at the White House with the leaders of the science and engineering community in attendance, including SWE President Nora Lin. SWE is supportive of this campaign and will be participating in two of the campaign’s signature events: National Lab Day and National STEM week. The first of the two, National Lab Day, focuses matching scientists and engineers with local classroom teachers to help with specific resources and activities. National Lab Day has developed a beta website for this initiative, and SWE’s specific web link on the site is For more information about the "Educate to Innovate" initiative, please visit
November 10, 2009: The National Coalition of Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE) held a Congressional briefing entitled, "STEM Education: How Gender Bias Hurts Girls, Boys and U.S. Competitiveness." GRPP Chair, Cathy Pieronek, was one of the briefing’s primary speakers, and gave a talk entitled, "Women and STEM: The Need for Change." To view the video of Cathy’s presentation, please visit
July 21, 2009: The House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education held a hearing entitled, "Encouraging the Participation of Women in STEM Fields." Ms. Barbara Bogue, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the SWE Assessing Women and Men in Engineering (AWE) Project, testified on behalf of SWE. Ms. Bogue provided an overview of the SWE AWE project, including the metrics and methodologies used to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of programs designed to increase girls participation in STEM, and also spoke about her experiences as head of the Women in Engineering program at Pennsylvania State University. More information about the hearing can be found here.
June 23, 2009: Betty Shanahan, SWE Executive Director and CEO, attended a White House roundtable commemorating the 37th anniversary of Title IX. Speakers included: Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and an all-star line-up of women athletes and scientists, including Billie Jean King and Dominique Dawes. In addition to the roundtable participants, 30 local high school girls were in the audience.  The White House YouTube video of the roundtable can be found here.
May 20, 2009: SWE co-sponsored a briefing entitled, "Bringing Innovative Computing Curricula Across the Digital Divide."  The primary sponsor was the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), and the other co-sponsors included: Microsoft, the Computing Research Association, Computer Science Teachers Association, IEEE-USA, and the National Center for Women and Information Technology.  The briefing was held in conjunction with the House STEM Education Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus, and approximately 70 people attended the event, including key Congressional staff.  More information about the briefing can be found here.
April 28-29, 2009: Eleven SWE leaders participated in the 2009 Science Engineering and Technology Congressional Visits Day (CVD), which SWE co-sponsored.  Twenty-one Congressional visits were conducted with the leaders' local Members of Congress (House and Senate) and/or their staff.  In addition, SWE President Virginia Connolly, P.E. was one of the principals who participated in a CVD press conference with the Congressional Research and Development Caucus Co-Chairs.  As the only diversity group co-sponsoring CVD, the focus of SWE President Connolly's message was the need for U.S. commitment to a more diverse and inclusive U.S. workforce, which can help fuel innovation.  More information about SWE's participation in CVD 2009 can be found in the June 2009 Washington Spotlight and in the SWE Public Policy Community.
February 24, 2009: SWE held a Congressional briefing in conjunction with the House Diversity and Innovation Caucus entitled, "The Dearth of Women in Academic Science and Engineering: Proactive Strategies for Improvement."  More than 100 representatives from Congressional offices, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, industry, and academia attended the event, and SWE President Virginia Connolly, P.E. served as moderator.  More information about the briefing can be found here.
November 7, 2008: During WE08, the SWE Government Relations and Public Policy (GRPP) Committee held a breakout session entitled, “SWE Public Policy and You: How to Communicate with Congress.”  The session discussed SWE’s current public policy goals and activities, and how individual SWE members can get involved.  Then the session provided attendees with an overview of how to communicate with Congress and discussed other opportunities in Washington, D.C.  More information, including speaker presentations, can be found on the SWE Public Policy Community.
September 18, 2008: Patricia Eng, P.E., member of the SWE Government Relations and Public Policy Committee, testified before the National Academies’ Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (CWSEM) during their “From Doctorate to Dean or Director: Sustaining Women through Critical Transition Points in Science, Engineering, and Medicine.”  SWE’s testimony focused primarily on the major finding of the SWE retention study, which dealt with STEM industry retention for women.  Ms. Eng’s testimony can be found in the SWE Public Policy Community.
August 29, 2008: A joint AWIS-SWE letter was sent to the two Presidential candidates, Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ), which asked the candidates seven specific questions on their views on issues related to women in science and engineering.  Both candidates have recently responded.  View a side-by-side comparison of their responses.
July 23, 2008: SWE hosted an evening reception in honor of the House Diversity and Innovation (D&I) Caucus, recognizing their efforts over the past year.  At this reception, SWE presented its first-ever President’s award to Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) for her work to ensure a diverse and inclusive STEM workforce. Additional information can be found here.
May 21, 2008: SWE FY 2008 President Michelle Tortolani spoke in support of the "Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Act of 2008" at the bill's introductory press conference held by Representative Mike Honda (D-CA). Photos from the press conference and Tortolani's remarks are now available for your review. image1; image2; Tortolani's Remarks

February 28, 2008:  SWE responds to House Diversity and Innovation Caucus questions related to what barriers women and under-represented groups face entering the STEM workforce, what institutional policies or practices are in place that can mitigate these challenges, and what Congress and the federal government can do to promote and ensure a more favorable environment.

October 18, 2007: SWE held a Congressional briefing in conjunction with the House Diversity and Innovation Caucus entitled, “The Leaky Science and Engineering Pipeline: How Can We Retain More Women in Academia and Industry?”  Summary of Congressional Briefing: October 18, 2007

June 28, 2007: SWE held a Congressional Briefing entitled, “The Importance of the Diversity Issue to the Competitiveness and Innovation Debate.” The briefing was the inaugural opportunity for attendees to hear from members of the new Congressional Diversity and Innovation Caucus. Summary of Congressional Briefing: June 28, 2007

June 19, 2007: Testimony of SWE Past President Margaret Edith Layne, P.E., to the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education, Life Long Learning, and Competitiveness. The hearing was entitled, “Building on the Success of Thirty-Five Years of Title IX,” and Layne’s testimony discussed the relationship of Title IX, its impact in the past 35 years and the discrimination still existing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.


Testimony of SWE Past President Peggy Layne, P.E. to House Committee on Education and Labor: June 19, 2007  

February 28, 2007: SWE held a roundtable discussion on the topic of gender equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields at the National Academies. Thirty-eight representatives from twenty-two science and engineering professional organizations and women’s groups were in attendance. Roundtable Summary

September 26, 2006: SWE held a Congressional Briefing in conjunction with both the House STEM Education Caucus and the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues entitled, “Are More Women and Diversity Needed in the STEM Workforce?” Summary of Congressional Briefing: September 26, 2006

February 21, 2006: During Engineers Week 2006, SWE held a Congressional Briefing in conjunction with the House STEM Education Caucus entitled, “ Strengthening the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Workforce: Connecting Educators to Engineering”  Summary of Congressional Briefing: February 21, 2006


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