Joined by President-Elect George Anderson, Treasurer Kent de Jong, and Secretary Mark Kaczmarek, INCOSE Chesapeake Chapter President Erik DeVito provided a brief overview of both INCOSE and INCOSE Chesapeake Chapter. Following this short introduction, with 19 Women Systems Engineers representing 10 different local companies in attendance, the Women in Systems Engineering (WISE) was kicked-off. The vision behind WISE is to actively encourage a greater representation of Women in Systems Engineering. Some initial goals for this group are to increase opportunities for Women to participate with the INCOSE Chesapeake Chapter, attract new women to our membership, and help Women SEs grow their careers through education. Currently within the Chesapeake Chapter there are 66 Women members out of 383 total active members; that’s ~ 17% but more pressing is that less than 5 women regularly participate in our annual programs.
WISE will be chartered as a Special Interest Group within the chapter. Erik joked that despite the initial plan for him to act as the interim chair of the WISE group for the first six months he’s more than happy to get out of the way and let the group self determine their board format as well as the arrangement of their events and activities. While the INCOSE CC BOD will provide advisory and budgetary support the WISE volunteers will ultimately be responsible for the growth of the group as part of a phased financial support approach during the first 2 years.
Going around the room some prevailing themes and ideas were shared by the women in attendance. Many expressed that they wanted to get involved in WISE to increase the visibility of women in the career field, increase opportunities to network/share best practices and lessons learned, participate in mentoring and Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) activities for K-12 students as well as providing support to young women in college and entering the engineering workforce. Additionally, most shared the view that Women in Systems Engineering can provide different yet vitally important perspectives that are currently lacking given the current demographics not only within our chapter but within their workplace.
President DeVito took an action to establish a survey to take a poll to identify potential activities, meeting frequency and format, and focus areas. The results of this survey will be communicated to the group and will be discussed at the next (yet to be scheduled) WISE Group meeting.
This kickoff was a great success and if it’s any indication of how well this initiative will do in the future then it’s very exciting indeed. A very special thanks goes out to Scitor Corp for hosting this event and to Linda Pitelli for helping to make the arrangements. If you know any women working in Systems Engineering who may want to be part of this group please send their name and contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org