Tech Insights

Engineering Groups Empower Women With Growth and Community

March 07, 2024 by Karen Hanson

These professional engineering groups provide ways for women to network, learn, and develop their careers. As part of EEPower’s Women’s History Month coverage, this article reviews two major organizations dedicated to women in engineering. 

Women work in every area of engineering, and the numbers are climbing. In the 1970s, just 3% of engineers were women. By 2022, the percentage rose to more than 16%. Countless engineers are determined to grow those numbers even more and increase opportunities for women by participating in professional organizations.

Two major organizations—the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and IEEE Women in Engineering— are leading the way in providing professional networking, education, resources, and other opportunities for women.


Electrical engineer.

Electrical engineer. Image used courtesy of Adobe Stock


Society of Women Engineers

Established in 1950, the Society of Women Engineers has supported generations of women working in or pursuing engineering careers. With 40,000 members globally, the group provides networking, education, and resources for its members. 

SWE’s annual conference features demonstrations and displays appealing to engineers at all career levels. The 2023 conference drew 21,600 engineers and affiliates. SWE chapters also hold local conferences.

SWE member Lauren Kegley, marketing manager of Wolfspeed’s Automotive Discrete portfolio, told EEPower what it’s like to attend a SWE conference.

“It’s so empowering,” Kegley said. “The SWE conference is just this powerhouse of women in every field, every age and culture, so it’s really fun.” 

Kegley has spoken at some events and recommends the leadership training the group offers. “It’s fantastic because it’s really focused on developing specific soft skills to help you evolve your executive presence.”

SWE has an extensive awards program to recognize outstanding achievements in engineering at all career levels. Awards are given in categories such as Distinguished Engineer Educator, Advocating Women in Engineering, Distinguished Engineer Educator, and Distinguished New Engineer. Members may also receive awards for service, leadership, and patents.


The number of women in engineering is increasing steadily, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures

The number of women in engineering is increasing steadily, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. Image used courtesy of SWE

To encourage women to enter engineering, SWE offers bachelor’s and graduate college scholarships for students studying in an ABET-approved program (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). In 2023, the SWE awarded $1.5 million to aspiring engineers worldwide. The organization also sponsors clubs, contests, and outreach programs so young people can get hands-on experience.


IEEE Women in Engineering

The IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) group focuses specifically on engineers in electricity and electronics. Founded in 1997, WIE is affiliated with the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Members number over 30,000 worldwide, with affiliate groups in more than 100 countries. 

The professional organization advocates for women and girls by providing resources, education, awards, and scholarships. WIE members have access to IEEE’s resources, including conferences, publications, and job boards

WIE holds more than 4,000 events annually around the world. Events include the annual International Leadership Conference and International Leadership Summits held locally. The IEEE WIE Day is held annually. WIE recognizes the achievements of its members with annual awards, such as the Women in Technology Leadership Award.

The group’s mission includes inspiring girls to enter STEM fields. The WIE STAR program program invites junior high and high school girls to participate in events, field trips, competitions, and other activities. In 2023, WIE held a contest where girls wrote manga stories about technology topics. WIE also sponsors scholarships.


Other Women’s Engineering Groups

  • Women in Power Systems (WPS) focuses specifically on power engineers and other women working in the power industry. The digital magazine and social media community highlight women’s achievements and promote equal opportunity.
  • The Power Electronics Society (PELS) Women in Engineering Committee is a subgroup of IEEE, the largest professional engineering society.
  • Women in Science and Engineering is a special interest group of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). 
  • Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN), founded in 1990, works with universities, business, and engineering groups to promote diversity and provide training opportunities.