I was not always interested in the workings of the Government; I assumed government is all about bureaucracy instead of creativity, where lobbying/bribing triumphs instead of the best ideas, where software developers are bound to use age-old browsers instead of the new and cutting age ones. But then again, I got hooked with the TV show Parks and Recreation, and I wanted to be the Leslie Knope of whatever I did.
From my first time voting in an election to working with the US dept. Health and Human Services to help them analyze their Medicare data for a class project, I realized it more and more why it is important for the technologists to collaborate with the government. We as technologists, scientists and engineers, cannot just sit in our lab or behind our computers feeling powerless. It’s our duty as citizens to make our voice heard. I have been involved in several initiatives that work with technical women, mentors girls to break the barriers to enter in technical fields, and faced many of the challenges one faces when they are not part of the traditional majority in a field. We can talk about the problem all day, but few initiatives can be successful without a grassroots-level change and that requires government-level involvement. I am very grateful to SWE (Society of Women Engineers) for helping us get one step closer in this mission.
Before meeting the representatives we received both research-based information and hands-on training from SWE about how we should communicate our thoughts and idea to our government representatives. As engineers we may be very good with facts and data, but when it comes to communicating effectively, such trainings can be very empowering. We learnt about the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act, and other proposals that can help remove the biases and barriers against women in STEM. During a panel discussion, we got to ask more open format questions to the congressional stuffs. We also got to hear from them about their limitations, time or budget-wise, and how they are fighting what they think is right. The good news is so can you, even from the ease of your home, follow this link to know more http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/legislative-action-center/
No wonder why I felt so energized to see so many of the representatives and elected government officials were ready to hear from us in this Congressional Outreach event. But above all, what resonated the most with me is the shared experience with women engineers who attended the event from around many states from the US, and from various engineering fields. I spoke with women engineers working in mechanical, chemical, civil, aerospace fields, from Maryland, Texas, California, Michigan, and so on! Oh, I also got to meet some fellow “Parks and Recs” fan who are as much excited to be part of the change we wish to see in the world!
Event details: SWE: Congressional Outreach Program 2019 https://alltogether.swe.org/2019/01/registration-open-for-swes-congressional-outreach-event-in-dc/
Top-Left: Me Posing.