History

The Founding of SWE National

More than sixty years ago, when women identified themselves by their marital status, and newspaper help wanted ads placed employment opportunities into separate categories for men and women, a group of more than sixty pioneering women engineers and engineering students gathered to build a national organization. They met in New Jersey, at The Cooper Union's Green Engineering Camp, on May 27-28, 1950 to officially form the Society of Women Engineers, and to make their way into a profession that did not necessarily welcome them. They did so not out of a desire to agitate or to rock the boat, but rather because they wanted the opportunity to develop their abilities, to give expression to their potential, to contribute to society.

Groups of women engineers and women engineering students had been meeting informally in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, D.C. They understood the value of sharing encouragement and information; of the strength that comes from solidarity with like-minded peers. And they knew that as a group they could accomplish so much more that isolated individuals to make large-scale change, to open the halls of engineering to women.

The labor shortage during the Second World War did lead some women to explore engineering and pursue technical careers. However, when SWE was founded far less than one percent of working engineers were women, many employers remained skeptical of their abilities, and the general public still considered engineering to be a masculine profession unsuitable for women.

Since its founding, SWE has focused its efforts on introducing young women to careers in engineering, demonstrating to employers and the public the critical role women engineers play in creative teams, and providing support to women engineers as they advance in their careers. 

The Society has an international membership of more than 15,000 women and men. SWE is located in 78 areas of the United States and Puerto Rico. SWE Student Sections have been chartered at more than 270 colleges, universities, and engineering institutes located throughout the United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Founding of our Kansas State University Chapter

Coming soon!