As my time as a Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Senator ends today, I wanted to dedicate this month’s post to my experience on the SWE Senate. I served in this role from FY20 – FY22, so there is a lot to cover about a 3-year term which is a typical term length for a SWE Senator post governance changes.
What is the SWE Senate?
The SWE Senate is the strategic body of the society that advises the Board of Directors and the membership on strategic issues. The members of the Senate participate in strategic work through the strategic planning process and research of strategic initiatives. The Senate is made up of voting and non-voting members. The voting members of the Senate are elected by members of the society and for FY22, there are a total of 21 elected Senators. The non-voting members of the Senate include the Board of Directors, the Speaker of the Senate, the Deputy Speaker of the Senate, the Senate Secretary, and a Parliamentarian. Each year of the SWE Senate, Sub-Teams are formed to focus on the different areas and goals for the year.
I worked on 3 different subteams throughout my time as Senator. In year 1, I served on the D&I Gender Inclusion Sub-Team, year 2 on the RISE team, and year 3 on the DEI Strategic Planning Team. If you are interested in learning more about any of these teams and our conclusions, please let a comment below and I will make this a future blog post!
Time Commitment and Duties
In terms of a time commitment, I would say being a SWE Senator is a commitment of at least an hour each week, if not more based on the typical duties of a SWE Senator.
- Monthly Senate Meetings which are usually 1 hour to 1.5 hours in length
- Training on topics like Parliamentarian / Bylaws, Collaboration, DEI, and Inclusive Leadership
- Senate 1 (Usually held at Annual Conference)
- Senate 2
- Subteam and/or Tiger Team Meetings
- Optional meetings – Open Office Hour
- Subteam work – will vary depending on what Sub-team you are on
- Bylaws amendment motions
- Reading and adding comments on Teamwork
The past two years has also included several amendments to SWE’s Bylaws. As SWE is a global society, there is a good chance that a monthly meeting will fall during a time that is typical business hours for you. Thankfully, Senate leadership is pretty good about giving a few months’ heads up about this date and time which gives you time to adjust your work schedule to attend. Ultimately there will still be conflicts like I had a work meeting scheduled at the same time as our March meeting, but all SWE Senate monthly meetings and most other meetings are recorded.
You are expected to attend Annual Conference if you can, and registration has typically been free for SWE Senators in the past.
- Have a SWE Day – Each week, I blocked out 2 hours (typically on Saturday or Sunday) on my calendar to go through Teamwork and work on my SWE Senate work.
- Lean into SWE Buddies – I lead a team or SWE Buddies this last year and tried my best to send a message to the group everyone once in a while to check in between meetings.
To Learn More about the SWE Senate:
- SWE’s Website on SWE Senate – https://swe.org/about-swe/governance/senate/
- About SWE and SWE’s Bylaws – https://swe.org/about-swe/
Do you have any questions about the SWE Senate or running for a SWE society-level position? We would be happy to make a future blog about this topic, so please feel free to reach out to us at DaniTheEngineer.Blog@gmail.com with your specific questions and leave them as a comment below this post!