Women are Engineered to Succeed in STEM

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Nearly 8,000 women engineers, scientists and college students from around the world attended the 2014 Society of Women Engineers  National Conference in Los Angeles.  The theme of this year’s event was “A Global Exchange for Change.”  The record number of attendees included nearly 300 companies – and Verizon is proud to have been one of them.

As a member of SWE’s Corporate Partnership Council, Verizon is recognized as one of the most prominent supporters. The CPC focuses on the following:

  • Sharing best practices to address retention and advancement issues among women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).  
  • Supporting the mission and objectives of SWE by providing financial support for the society and its programs.
  • Creating job opportunities for women engineers and technologists within their organizations.
  • Supporting diversity and promoting opportunities for women in the engineering and technology workforce.  

Highlights of the two-day conference included:

CPC Panel Meeting   
This was a great opportunity for corporations to discuss key topics related to the recruitment and retention  of female engineers. The discussion featured an insightful look into the research being conducted by Nadya A. Fouad, Ph.D. and Romila Singh, Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on the topic of “Stemming the tide: Push-Pull Factors that Shape Engineers’ Engagement.”

New Research:  First-of-Its-Kind Culture Study   
Verizon was asked to serve on a committee to develop a first-of-its-kind culture study for SWE. One of the main goals of the research is to help to construct the first national study that will help set the baseline for gender equity in engineering in the hopes of moving the U.S. up from its lagging global position in the area of diversity and gender equity.

Resume Review Session
Verizon recruiters took part in a resume review session where they met with conference attendees and offered them feedback on their resumes ahead of the career fair and interview sessions.  

Professional Development & Career Advice  
Several corporate panels on professional development and career advice were held.  Cissy George, executive director – network engineering, who serves as one of the co-chairs of the Verizon CPC SWE committee, was a panelist discussing “Developing Your Authentic Leadership.” She also moderated a panel that focused on “Personal Powerful Answers,” where members of the Verizon team offered solutions to problems that they overcame in their careers. In addition, Verizon hosted a hospitality suite to enable conference attendees to network with members of the Verizon team.  

K-12 STEM Expo titled ‘Invent It, Build It!’     
Middle school and high schools girls from local schools and Girl Scout troops participated in a hands-on engineering experience with members of the Society of Women Engineers. At the same time, parents and educators learned about engineering careers, scholarships, college admission and resources via a series of interactive panels.  Phil Puthumana of the Verizon Foundation was a panel participant and invited a special guest  – Rae-Bel Neary, a ninth grader from San Diego, who was a regional winner of the 2013 Verizon Innovative App Challenge. She demonstrated her app encouraged peers to enter future contests. “It made a huge difference to have Rae-Bel represent the App Challenge at the EXPO,” said Puthumana, who oversees the contest. “She is a bright young woman with a tremendous future ahead of her.”  

We at Verizon are already looking ahead to SWE 2015, which will be held in Nashville on Oct. 22-24. We are delighted that Nicki Palmer, chief network officer of Verizon Wireless, will be the keynote speaker.

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At Verizon, celebrating our culture of inclusion is not limited to certain days, weeks or months on a calendar. As our Chief Talent and Diversity Officer Magda Yrizarry says.
Dave Masters is an engineer at Verizon. He also coaches at Chantilly Academy, a tech-oriented division of Chantilly High in Virginia. The sport isn’t football or basketball. It’s robotics.