The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Women In Engineering organization hosted a webinar last week featuring the Women in Engineering ProActive Network. The two organizations are similar in scope – both want to increase the number of women in technical fields – but IEEE WIE is clearly focused on engineers while WEPAN and its Knowledge Center have a broader reach touching many STEM-related disciplines in addition to engineering.
WEPAN started in 1990 and is a national (U.S.) not-for-profit organization with over 600 members across various industries and academia. Its stated goal is to “help members develop a more prepared and diverse engineering workforce,” which more clearly worded means that they’re working to facilitate the development of programs and activities that promote the entry and retention of women in engineering programs.
During the webinar, Diane Matt (WEPAN’s Executive Director) and Jenna Carpenter (IEEE Senior Member, Associate Dean at Louisiana Tech University and WEPAN’s Director of Professional Development) walked attendees through a tour of the WEPAN site and its associated Knowledge Center. Nearly forty percent of the webinar’s participants were academics.
The WEPAN Knowledge Center is an online resource for “research, best practices and professional communities dedicated to advancing all women in engineering.” It began with five hundred resources in June of 2009, and has since doubled its listings. Want statistics on the number of American college graduates with STEM-degrees who happen to be women? Curious about gender gaps and bias in various fields? Looking for organizations or institutions with diversity, outreach and research programs? All of that – and much, much more – can be found in the WEPAN Knowledge Center, and the information is completely open to the public; membership is not required for viewing, a deliberate action to make this information accessible to anyone. (Email registration is required if you want to add resource or access online community content.)
WEPAN also has a large professional community for members, which features a global calendar of events, as well as a the usual selection of social networking options – discussion groups, people and skills search, blogs, in-group email, etc. as well as the ability to track specific groups of professional interest. If you’re interested in mentoring or professional development, this community seems a great place to build your resources. Be sure to visit their main website as well as the Knowledge Center, and check out the FAQ.
Note that membership in the professional community and membership in WEPAN are different animals: only email registration is required to participate in the professional community, but individual membership in the organization is $100 (reduced rates available for student, etc.). WEPAN membership appears to be specifically aimed at academics of various levels, though it’s open to “anyone interested in promoting and achieving improved representation of women in engineering.” WEPAN also has an online store that boasts its own conference proceedings and presentation guides.
The WEPAN Annual Conference, aimed at addressing “recurring and emerging issues”, will be heald in June 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (This year’s conference included tracks on Diversity, Policy, How to Get Funding, Cultivating Tomorrow’s Talent and Effective Messaging.)
Look for announcements of future IEEE and IEEE WIE webinars on their website, or here on dotFiveOne.